London brand L’Estrange has launched the Re_Fresh tablet, promising a new approach to laundry and, above all, clothing care. The tablet is described by founders Tom Horne and Will Green as “an exfoliator for clothes”, which they claim can potentially double the life of clothes thanks to its natural enzyme formula which removes a thin layer of old fibers to revealing the good-as-new garment underneath.
The enzymes work by concentrating only on the upper level of the fibers, which lose their color due to abrasion, washing and general wear. The more a garment is worn, the more this layer of super fine fibers makes the garment look faded and worn. Enzymes are “naturally occurring proteins [that] have the power to rejuvenate the look and color of our clothes,” Horne and Green explain. “Harnessing the power of these natural enzymes, the Re_Fresh tablet acts as a gentle exfoliator, removing a thin layer of those old fibers, revealing the vibrant color beneath and rejuvenating clothes to their former glory.”
“It’s part of a broader drive to promote degrowth in the fashion industry. Simply put, the production of the fashion industry is unsustainable and we need to reduce it.
Prior to the release of Re_Fresh, L’Estrange was best known for its commitment to sustainable clothing, making the decision to design a laundry tablet potentially surprising. “It’s a departure from what we’re doing, but it’s not the case either,” Horne and Green explain. “The launch of Re_Fresh gave us a greater platform to communicate the values that underpinned the launch of L’Estrange London in the first place.” The key values they talk about center around degrowth – a concept the duo hope to spread far beyond their own label.
“Founded on the philosophy ‘with less, do more’, we have always been on a mission to simplify men’s wardrobes, but this is part of a larger desire to promote degrowth in the fashion industry”, they continue. “Simply put, the fashion industry’s output is unsustainable and we need to reduce it.”
To achieve its goals, L’Estrange followed a six-point framework for operating the business. This includes a commitment to design for versatility and longevity, a promise to use responsible materials, traceable supply chains and brand impact compensation. The list ends with obligations to offer “Lifecare” and repairs, and to recycle unwanted items through the “Re_Work” program. “[Re_Fresh] was another investment to see if we could boost our impact at the Lifecare stage through a commercial product or service that made reducing your environmental impact exciting and engaging for our audience.
The process of creating the Re_Fresh tablets started with a previous idea to find a method or process that would re-dye clothes. During this time, Horne and Green came across the work of Dutch scientist Harm Kuilderd, a pioneer in enzyme technology. “When we tested it, we were blown away,” they wrote. “Harm had been working with this technology for some time, but it was through our partnership that we were able to bring the product to consumers, the first of its kind in the world.”
L’Estrange’s Re_Fresh system focuses directly on the issue of low garment usage in the fashion industry. The brand highlights the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which identifies this as one of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change, as people wear their clothes less and less. “We saw the emergence of a cultural trend, a shift towards wearing less and throwing more,” Horne and Green explain. “While fast-paced trends have a lot to answer for, some clothes wear out. The problem is that historically, life care hasn’t been a particularly sexy aspect of the business. But in its current form, l he fashion industry is unsustainable, and each step taken to reduce the number of new things we consume, the better.
By launching Re_Fresh, Horne and Green hope to shift the conversation around responsible fashion, while engaging a new audience in the conversations. “[We aim to] changing perceptions of where innovation can happen to improve the industry,” the duo add. “It might be too much to ask for a shift in values, but we hope it fuels the enthusiasm for tangible ways to change the industry for the better.”