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Insights April 26, 2022

BIORESTORE is out to revolutionize the way we consume fashion

Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions[1] and the production has doubled in the last 15 years. Simultaneously, the time clothing is worn before it is thrown away has fallen by around 40% [2].

The founders of Sting company BIORESTORE, one of five winners of the 2022 Global Change Awards by H&M Foundation, took on the challenge to address this critical world problem.

BIORESTORE team
BIORESTORE team

We spoke to co-founder Wajahat Hussain to hear more about the innovation that could revolutionize the way we consume fashion.

Congratulations on being one of five winners of the Global Change Awards Wajahat, that’s an amazing achievement! Now we’re curious to hear about BIORESTORE. What is it that you are doing?

BIORESTORE Is a product that restores old and worn-out clothes back to new in a single wash. The product is a powder that you put in the washing machine together with your worn garments, wash them at 40 degrees, and voilá, you have a practically new piece of clothing. The colors are refreshed, pilling is removed, the fabric feels tighter and softer, and prints look like new. Each treatment lasts for months!

That sounds amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about the sustainability challenges this is solving?

A lot of research within the sustainable textile field is focusing on recycling fabrics and garments. That is all good, but if you can prolong the life of clothes that are already produced, the impact will be much bigger. This can reduce carbon footprint by at least 50% [3].

Sounds like magic to me. How did you come up with the idea?

It may sound like magic, but it’s really just bioscience. As a textile engineer, I had worked in the fashion industry for 10 years before I started my master’s degree at the Swedish School of Textiles. Being the oldest student in my class, I came with experiences from having worked with a lot of different factories around the world, with fabrics, materials, and chemistry.

All research at that time was focused on questions like ‘how do we recycle textiles’, but I thought that they were missing a step. I was thinking ‘what if we could prolong the life of the garments instead of just throwing them away, or recycling them, as soon as it looks a bit worn?’

I started looking into different technologies, formulated a hypothesis, experimented a bit, and eventually had a technological breakthrough. I spent some more time converting the technology to something a consumer could use in their washing machine at home. The idea of BIORESTORE has always been to empower consumers to be able to prolong the lives of their garments and reduce waste.

How did you make the decision to start a company? How was that process?

As I mentioned, I had been working in the fashion industry for quite some time. For example, I spent three years setting up a sustainable innovation department at Gant. This is where I met Richard, my co-founder, and Creative Director. Our shared passion for sustainable fashion during lunch discussions clicked. One of the learnings was that the adoption of technology and solutions is extremely slow and most deep technologies never make it out to consumers. So, we understood that if we wanted to make this successful, we needed to make sure the product reaches the consumers. We wanted control of our direction which is not always possible if you depend on partnerships. From there it was easy to take the decision to form a company.  

How has the entrepreneurial journey been for you?

Entrepreneurship came very naturally to me. I enjoy it. There are some pros and cons, obviously, you can’t rely on a regular paycheck. On the other hand, you can do what you want, and you can make an impact much faster than you, in my experience, could if you work for someone else.

What has the biggest challenge been, putting your innovation on the market?

Initially, it was very hard to convince people that it really worked. In today’s world of photoshop, filters, and scams, a photo is not enough to build trust. Before the pandemic, we carried around fabric samples so that people could see the results with their own eyes. When we weren’t able to meet in person anymore, we started to distribute a huge number of product samples to people who could use them and then give us testimonials. We joined Sting in 2020 and by the time we graduated, we had over 100 testimonials from people who had used the product. That made it easier for new customers and partners to trust that this wasn’t a scam.

We also partnered up with a fellow Sting company, ‘Hack your closet’. They rent out garments and have a need for restoring some of the things that are starting to look a bit worn. This gave us some further recognition. And not it’s this Global Change Award, which is a real game-changer. People finally believe that this is real.

How was your time at Sting Incubate?  

Without Sting we wouldn’t have reached as far as we have today. We are not local entrepreneurs, I moved to Sweden in 2014 and my co-founder is from the UK, so it was hard for us to know where to start. Building a consumer brand requires quite a lot of skills, network, initial investments and Sting has opened many doors for us. With the help of our Sting coaches, we feel that we could make the right decisions. We ended up raising around 2.25 MSEK, which wouldn’t have been possible without Sting.  

What drives you to move forward?

Our ambition is to make BIORESTORE a global market leader when it comes to clothing restoration. We want this brand to be a household name so that people always think of restoring clothes before buying a new one. Looking at all the responses we get, we are convinced that we are on track with this mission.

Clothes are not only something we put on our bodies, but people also have many memories and emotions attached to their favorite piece of clothes. For example, I met a guy at the gym who was working out in an old Jack Daniels t-shirt. I asked him why and he told me that before he became a successful hotel owner, he worked as a bartender, and this shirt was a fond memory from that time in his life. I could see that it was totally worn so it felt good to be able to offer him to restore it.

This is just one of many stories. There is a big human element to it in addition to all the sustainability data that we can show off.  

What advice do you have to a founder in the Sustaintech area, looking to make an impact?

My strong advice to Sustaintech developers is to believe in what they’re doing. And also, to keep a healthy balance when it comes to sustainability activism and economy since finance and sustainability are closely linked together. Many times, when passionate people build their ventures, they forget that they also must generate revenues in order to get that amazing product or service out to the world.

Where can I buy the product?
We just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter where you can pre-order your BIORESTORE products and have them delivered in August-September. After this, the product should be regularly available on our website and other marketplaces. Many thanks for your time Wajahat and good luck with the Kickstarter campaign!

[1] https://www.genevaenvironmentnetwork.org/resources/updates/sustainable-fashion/

[2] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/how-the-circular-economy-is-redesigning-fashions-future/

[3] The mistra future fashion

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