Earthlink Apparel transforms used textiles into fashion

  • Design
  • December 1, 2016
  • Caitlin Salter
Earthlink Apparel transforms used textiles into fashion

Earthlink Apparel is just one corner of a larger organisation, Earthlink Incorporated which focuses on social, environmental and economic sustainability, and supporting coping with mental health or addiction issues find sustainable employment. Other initiatives include NZQA accredited training programmes, recycling and horticulture services and a curtain bank.

The apparel arm was launched as an operational business in 2014 to divert end-of-life corporate apparel and recover textiles resources previously being wasted.

Talks about diving into the clothing world started in 2012 as part of Hutt City Council’s ‘Silver Lining’ initiative. An initial pilot project, largely focused on the recovery of end-of-life New Zealand Post and Kiwibank uniforms, resulted in a total of 40,200 garments being recovered – saving some 40 tonnes of textiles from being disposed of offshore or in landfills.

Earthlink Incorporated chief executive Shirley Cressy says every part of donated garments is used in some way.

“We guarantee we’ll recycle, upcycle or repurpose everything we get in and the garments we haven’t been able to use we either put into rags or send to other non-profits around New Zealand.”

The only limitation in the clothing is that no logos can be used, so they are cut out and shredded. The shredded fabric can be used for stuffing pillows and toys or used in upholstery.

New Zealand disposes of 100,000 tonnes of textiles annually, making textiles the fastest growing waste stream worldwide. According the Ministry for the Environment figures, textiles account for 4 percent of all waste sent to New Zealand landfills.

Earthlink Apparel’s aim is to recover, repurpose or recycle a total of 80 tonnes of corporate apparel by April next year.

The non-profit currently makes clothing for children up to the age of 10. Most are made from merino uniforms, suits and business skirts. The clothing doesn’t just help reduce consumers’ carbon footprint – it’s also easy on the wallet. All the clothing is sold at affordable prices, between $5 and $45.

Depending on the size of clothes being made, a single suit jacket could be used to make up to three items of clothing. The trousers could be made into five pairs of shorts.

“We do all sorts of things like turn sleeves into trousers and incorporate design elements on the clothing, like buttons and pockets, into the new garment.”

Since the non-profit began its work, a number of qualified designers have given advice on how best to utilise different parts of the clothing.

In 2015 the charity partnered up with researchers and designers at Massey University’s Space Between – a sustainable fashion initiative - to come up with the ‘Fundamentals’ womanswear range. Designed by Massey fashion lecturer Jennifer Whitty and manufactured at Earthlink Apparel, pieces from Fundamentals’ collection were displayed at New Zealand Fashion Week earlier this year.

And people are embracing the up-cycled fashion movement. A PledgeMe campaign run by Space Between in August to keep the project sustainable surpassed its $10,000 goal by more than $1000.

Earthlink Apparel is currently available in their Lower Hutt store, as well as at selected markets and retailers around Wellington. In the next few months they are hoping to move into the online shopping world as well.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

The $200 million-plus direct sales economy contains many lessons retailers can use. As part of a wider look at this thriving corner of retail, we created a quick explainer showing how this business model typically works.

Read more

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the upliners

We profiled different participants in the direct sales industry to find out what retailers can learn from them. Meet Isagenix distributors Adam Nesbitt and Bianca Bathurst.

Read more

Direct sales: Meet the business builder

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the business builder

As part of a wider story looking at what retailers can learn from the direct sales industry, we profiled Isagenix distributor Ben Frost.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Leveling up: Exploring multi-level marketing in New Zealand

Is the $200 million-plus direct sales economy retail by another name or something different? Regardless, what can we learn from it?


A spectrum of retailers

  • Opinion
  • April 18, 2019
  • David Farrell
A spectrum of retailers

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, retail commentator Dave Farrell considers the role of those on the spectrum in retail.

Read more

How on-trend is your retail business?

  • Sponsored Content
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sponsored content
How on-trend is your retail business?

New insights from Visa highlight five evolving trends emerging from savvy retailers around the world. We’ve taken these global trends and looked at how they are playing out with merchants in New Zealand, and we’d now like to hear what you think of them.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit