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NEW YORK – US luxury brand Ralph Lauren Corporation has announced a minority investment in Natural Fiber Welding, Inc, as part of plans to expand its use of recycled post-consumer cotton. The US start-up has developed a patented technique to transform cotton waste into patented, high-performance materials. As a part of the investment, Ralph Lauren will help scale NFW’s solutions.

Recycled cotton is often unsuitable for use in new cotton apparel due to the short fibres created during recycling. Founded in 2015, NFW has solved this challenge with an innovative process that welds short fibres into longer fibres to create high-performance cotton yarns which can incorporate cotton and other plant-based waste fibres.

This patented process transforms these materials in ways which – it is claimed – were not previously possible, creating an opportunity to reuse post-consumer cotton waste and impart performance characteristics into the fibre. It is claimed the resulting upcycled material outperforms synthetic fabrics while still retaining the comfortable feel of cotton.

“We have evolved and progressed our business for more than 50 years because we constantly push ourselves to think openly and differently about how to approach challenges,” said David Lauren, vice chairman & chief innovation officer at Ralph Lauren. “Today, sustainability is an area where this is especially important, and investing with partners to scale innovative solutions is a key part of our sustainability strategy. We are excited to support the work of NFW, a pioneer in this field. Their technology has the power to not only advance our work at Ralph Lauren, but effect positive change across the entire industry.”

“We are thrilled to have the investment, support and insight of Ralph Lauren, an industry icon whose commitment to timelessness – to true sustainability – is central to who they are,” said Dr. Luke Haverhals, founder and CEO at NFW. “We look forward to working together as we scale our best-in-class technology that has the potential to transform the way companies approach fabric and sourcing.”

Over time, the it is hoped the partnership will enable Ralph Lauren to replace and reduce its reliance on non-biodegradable synthetics, such as polyester and nylon, while scaling the use of more sustainable and upcycled materials.

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