Worn Again Technologies has a unique trail-blazing heritage. We were founded in 2005 by Cyndi Rhoades in East London, England under the name Worn Again with a vision to be part of the solution for eradicating textiles waste.
In the initial years, the company was launched in a partnership with Vivo Barefoot (formerly Terra Plana), the footwear company led by Galahad Clark, a 7th generation cobbler from the Clark’s shoe family. The quest of the business was to turn disused textiles – from old prison blankets, scrap leather from the automobile industry to decommissioned hot air balloons and Virgin Atlantic seat covers – into new and desirable footwear, handbags, jackets and accessories.
Jamie Burdett joined the business from 2008-2012 and played a key part in the company’s development as it went on to enter several successful partnerships. These included a project with Eurostar to design a bag for their Train Manager’s out of end of use train uniforms. In 2011, Nick Ryan joined the Worn Again team in supporting Hemingway Designs in the design and recyclability of McDonald’s new uniforms for London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
While the upcycling venture was making a difference, it was small. And we knew that even though we were giving these textiles a second life, our new products would eventually find their way to landfill at some point due to the lack of any real recycling solutions being available. We knew that more would need to be done to help solve the problem of textile waste.
Then came the ‘aha’ moment. We realised if we wanted to be a catalyst for a circular textiles industry, we needed to develop a process which could recycle the very building blocks of textiles, at the molecular level.
Cyndi and Nick began working on the challenge, but they were missing the vital technological component. That’s when Cyndi and Nick met Dr. Adam Walker, a scientist based at the time in Cambridge, England, who has since become Worn Again’s Chief Scientific Officer. When they shared their intentions to develop a solution that could turn both pure and blended polyester and cotton textiles back into virgin equivalent, cost competitive ‘new’ raw materials for the clothing industry, Adam’s response was, ‘Of course, polyester and cellulose in cotton are polymers, what’s the problem?’
Over half a decade later, while the brave and hair-raising journey continues, the company is well on its way to building a first industrial plant. Today, our pioneering polymer recycling technology is being optimised and brought to life by world-class scientists, chemical engineers and strategic partners who have a shared ambition: to fast track this vision of a waste-free, circular resource world.