The Garbage Sweater is the latest design from Vollebak, one that breathes new life into items originally destined for the landfill. Warm, soft, and fire-resistant, the top is made from old firefighter suits and bulletproof vests that have been discarded and deemed trash.
“Somewhere on Earth a garbage truck’s worth of clothing is dumped into landfill every single second. So if we want to avoid trashing our planet, we have to start figuring out how to re-use the stuff we already have,” said cofounder Steve Tidball. “That’s why the Garbage Sweater started with a very simple idea. What if garbage isn’t garbage? What if it’s simply pre-assembled raw materials that we can use to make new things.”
As you can imagine, working with firefighter suits and bulletproof vests proved to be considerably difficult, as these are items that are intended to have a shelf life far greater than the average garment. Subsequently, the Garbage Sweater is constructed using a completely different process than that of a regular sweater. After gathering a pile of trash consisting of old firefighter suits and bulletproof vests, in addition to unwanted fabric scraps, the assortment of “garbage” is shredded as to pull all of its fibers out. The fibers are then cleaned, blended, and spun to make a new material that is in turn stitched and sewn into a sweater. Although the firefighter suits and bulletproof vests have been discarded, their fibers still retain enough properties to make Vollebak’s Garbage Sweater fire-resistant.
“Obviously the most interesting bit of the dump for us is the stuff that was designed never to die. The problem with aramid fibers is that the exact properties which make them incredibly useful are the same properties which make them extremely hard to get rid of,” cofounder Nick Tidball explained.
Vollebak points out in a press release that the current infrastructure to recycle meta-aramids and para-aramids is extremely limited. Because of this, roughly 500 tons of firefighter gear is thrown away each year in France alone where the Garbage Sweater’s material is made.
You can learn more about this wild design — and purchase it for $495 — by visiting