Savage Apparel Co. founder Todd Curran for years has wanted to produce T-shirts and other apparel items that were more eco-friendly.
He's now doing it by using fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
"Our customers are very environmentally focused, so a lot of our clients have that ingrained in their system," said Curran, the company president who founded the business in 2009 in Charleston, S.C. and relocate it to Richmond in 2015.
"They are outdoor enthusiasts and they want to protect the earth," Curran said.
About 17 recycled bottles are needed to create enough fabric for one medium-sized jersey, he said.
But using recycled plastic bottles for shirt fabric doesn't mean users have to sacrifice comfort, he said.
The fabric is slightly more durable yet lightweight and comfortable than the fabric used in his company's other shirts, he said. The new GreenLine fabric gets a special antimicrobial ionic treatment that essentially helps the shirt stay fresher longer and it gets finished off with a softener to give it an ultra-comfortable feel, he said.
The shirt fabric also has a 50+ Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF, rating, which he said is the highest level of UV protection available in clothing.
Savage Apparel, which moved its headquarters and production operations to the corner of North Avenue and West Brookland Park Blvd., switched production process using the new fabric starting officially on Aug. 1.
The company received the new fabric in May and spent the last couple of months making sure it worked according to plan.
The company is on its second batch of the GreenLine fabric to make jerseys, shorts, reversible tanks, hooded jerseys and tank tops. Curran estimates that more than 1,500 items have been made using the new fabric.
"It is high quality product made here locally in Richmond," he said.
Savage Apparel worked with a partner mill in North Carolina to create a proprietary fabric.
The recycled plastic bottles that create the thread are within a 250-mile radius from the plant.
The plastic bottles are chopped up into chips and then melted and extruded into yarn. The yarn is sent to the mill to be made into the GreenLine fabric. It is then sent to a finishing house and finally to Savage Apparel’s headquarters in Richmond, where the company prints, cuts, and sews every GreenLine product it sells.
Not all of the company's offerings are made from the GreenLine fabric - just its main offerings of jerseys, shorts, long sleeves, hooded jerseys, tanks and polos.
Savage Apparel eventually plans to use the GreenLine fabric for all of its clothing merchandise.
All of the production, from design to printing and sewing, is done at the company's headquarters in North Richmond.
The company originally specialized in creating uniforms for ultimate Frisbee teams.
But it now works with a variety of sport teams soccer, kickball, spikeball, disc golf, dodgeball, and Quidditch. For instance, Savage Apparel earlier this month signed a deal to become the official jerseys, shorts, and sideline apparel of the American Ultimate Disc League in a three-year deal.
The bulk of its sales are custom-designed orders for teams, but individuals can buy merchandise on the company's website.