It’s finally fleece season again. Finally some good news, right? Sadly, wrong. Those magic pile fleeces we’re all obsessed with are actually terrible polluters of micro plastics—polyester microfibers that shed like crazy with every wear and wash, eventually landing in waterways, oceans, and our food chain. Tragic how something so cozy can be so bad for the environment.
To help, Swedish style masters and low-key leaders in the manufacturing of environmentally conscious apparel and outerwear, Houdini, has teamed up with material innovators at Polartec to develop the world’s first fleece designed to fight plastic waste, Project Mono Air—and they’ve made it open source so the whole industry can get in on the feel-good action.
The fully circular Project Mono Air rolls out this week with two styles available for both men and women, including a quarter zip and full zip (a crewneck made using a previous iteration of the Power Air fabric is also avaialble, and very stylish). Though they haven’t quite solved the problem of micro pollutants, the newest iteration of the circular Power Air does shed 80% fewer microfibers, and is made from a combination of 80% recycled and recyclable polyester. All while being no less comfy.
Those very cut-off fibers that make a conventional fleece fuzzy are what rub off and enter the environment as pollutants. The Power Air aims to reduce this by using longer, loftier fibers that are knitted into small pockets between a face and back fabric. The continuous knit technique traps the fibers and prevents shedding, while also trapping air to increase insulation.
The resulting Power Air fabric, used throughout the new Mono Air line (yes, the naming is quite confusing), is light, stretchy, and exhibits great warmth-to-weight ratio, making it ideal as a mid layer for skiing or outer layer for hiking, climbing, or typing at a computer.
While the Mono Air Houdi is likely the most functional for backcountry activities, the more urban-styled Mono Air Half Zip and Power Air Crewneck are standouts for us. Both remain extremely functional when tasked with insulating for outdoor activities, while also being aesthetically on point for everyday use in town, too.
And perhaps best of all, Houdini and Polartec are making the technology available across the industry via an open-source website. With any luck, more apparel brands will embrace the innovation—and together we can work toward a more sustainable relationship with our environment and Mother Earth as a whole. Because hell, if we can’t end consumerism, we might as well try to make it less destructive.