Couldn't the undercoat of my dog be put to good use instead of just throwing it away? That is what Ann Cathrin Schönrock, one of the two founders of YarnSustain, thought when she looked at how much fur her dog Emma was losing every year. She decided to put an end to the waste of resources and make a sustainable yarn from the undercoat. To do this, Franziska Uhl joined her and together they developed the first industrially spun yarn called Chiengora® by YarnSustain from dog fibers.
We're super excited to be working with the two of them and helping them launch what they call an "animal ethics revolution in the fashion industry."
In a conversation with retraced, they shared in more detail how their idea came about, what the concept entails today, and where they see the greatest potential for sustainability in the fashion industry.
What gave you the idea to start YarnSustain and create Chiengora?
It came out of my own need to work with authentically sustainable yarns. When I became aware of the incredibly soft fibers while grooming, I called the first dog salon directly the next day to be able to collect more and work out the first proof of concepts. After I had produced the first yarns with a small spinning mill and held them in my hand, the potential to develop an industrial application out of it quickly became clear.
It was always important for us to get away from the unjustly negative image of "dog wool" and to stand for a high-quality standard with "Chiengora®".
How does your concept work? Who are your partners and who are your customers?
Chiengora® by YarnSustain is an authentic sustainable natural fiber made from saved dog fibers. The spun yarns are characterized by their soft feel. Depending on the processing, the feel is comparable to cashmere or angora. Products made from Chiengora® by YarnSustain are particularly warming and light, as they consist of a high proportion of hollow fibers. These fibers can retain heat better due to the insulating layer of air inside and at the same time are lighter than comparable materials.
The innovative yarn is spun from the combed-out undercoat of dogs in a process developed by YarnSustain. The fibers come from pets and are lovingly collected by a non-profit network. No animal has to be bred for Chiengora®. This is the first time a valuable, regionally available raw material has been saved from the trash on an industrial scale and turned into authentically sustainable products.
In fact, the target group is as versatile as the areas of application of the yarns we developed. We are already working with B2B brands from different segments. What they all have in common is the demand for quality, sustainability, and animal ethics. In fact, we also have a growing fanbase of vegan people who see our way of sourcing fibers as so animal-ethical that they can reconcile wearing ours with their values.
Where do you see the greatest potential for sustainability in the fashion industry?
We want to show the textile industry new ways of sourcing raw materials. Through our working solution from previously unused raw materials, we can enable other brands to work with authentically sustainable yarns. In this way, we can not only work more sustainably as a label, but together we can kick-start a major sustainable yarn revolution.
Another aspect is that we have a unique insight into our supply chain. Through the crowdsourcing network of the non-profit organization, we are able to trace the raw fibers in the yarn down to individual dogs and communicate this transparently to the crowdsourcing community, end customers, and all stakeholders. We believe that in transparency lies the opportunity to change the textile industry and create more trust again. That's why we are working with retraced to develop this solution in the future and encourage other brands to follow suit with this pioneering project.
Check out their website to learn more.