13. November 2021

New Blue - A new circular denim material by Tim van der Loo & Sandra Nicoline Nielsen

Buy, wear, throw away – that’s what happens to most clothes. That’s where the principle of a circular economy comes in: Worn clothing can be much more than waste and becomes part of new and continuous material flows.

What began in 2018 as a project for a master’s thesis at the Weißensee Academy of Art in Berlin is currently supported by Re-FREAM, part of the STARTS (Science + Technology + Arts) initiative under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

“New Blue explores new pathways in circular economy, aesthetics and production. Denim is a ubiquitous material which is loved and used by many. It is also a significant source of waste. The challenge as we see it is to find a way to recirculate old worn out jeans and left over fibers within the system.”

Denim was always considered a particularly durable material – until it lost its integrity due to increasing globalisation and rapid consumption. With New Blue, the new circular denim, material and product designer Tim van der Loo and techno-anthropologist Sandra Nicoline Nielsen want to change that. In their process, jeans as raw material are cut into small fibres and then bonded to form a fleece. Using a new technology using digitally assisted industrial embroidery, the pattern is made directly on the fleece. Through a unique technique, the areas defined by the embroidery remain intact when the fleece is washed, while the non-embroidered parts of the fleece dissolve on contact with water and can eventually be reused as raw material. In this way, New Blue makes circular and waste-free production of denim a reality.