Kenya’s Recycled Mitumba Makes It To Paris Fashion Week

Through a partnership between global technology company Epson and Japanese fashion designer Yuima Nakazato, Kenya’s waste garments have made it to the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.

Mr Nakazato chanced upon 150 kilograms of waste garment material destined for the “clothes mountain” of discarded textiles while in Kenya and together with Epson, they processed the garments and designed them into haute couture clothes.

In his January 27, 2023, statement, Epson’s Regional Head for East and West Africa, Mr Mukesh Bector, said that the fabric taken to create the latest Yuima Nakazato fashion line was derived from material from used garments sourced from Africa, the destination for many discarded garments from elsewhere in the world.

Kenyan Mitumba

The used garments, known as mitumba in Kenya, were taken through a process whereby Epson applied its dry fiber process to produce over 50 meters of new re-fiberized non-woven fabric, some of which was used for printing with pigment inks with Epson’s Monna Lisa digital printing technology.

Epson’s dry fiber technology, which is already used commercially to recycle office paper and which requires virtually no water, has been adapted to produce printable non-woven fabric from used garments.

The new fabric production process was revealed in Paris as part of a three-year collaboration between Epson and Yuima Nakazato. It was used to create items for the first time during the latter’s runway show at the Palais de Tokyo on January 26, 2023.

“The collaboration between Epson and Yuima Nakazato builds on the success of the company’s printing support for his couture and evolves the level of his creations to enable the low-impact production of high-quality custom garments, “ added Mr Mukesh.

Epson and Yuima Nakazato are keen to raise awareness of the water and material waste associated with excess production.

The Paris Show illustrates how switching to digital textile printing using more environmentally friendly pigment inks offers the fashion industry a more sustainable and less wasteful means of textile printing.

“Although in its early stages, Epson believes its dry fiber technology combined with pigment ink digital printing could offer the fashion industry a much more sustainable future, significantly reducing water use while allowing designers the freedom to express their creativity fully.

Epson’s environmental vision is committed to contributing to a circular economy, and this development could be one step towards achieving this.

Dry fiber technology applied to the fashion industry offers the possibility of producing material for new clothes that have been recycled from used garments,” explained Hitoshi Igarashi from Epson’s Printing Solutions Division.

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