The Alicante-based company, Brenda Llórens, has been committed to the environment for three decades with its production of sustainable yarn. Now more than ever, it is well known in Europe for the remarkable quality and variety of its products, promoting eco-friendly fashion practices. We interviewed Paco Mataix, Partner & Business Development Manager, and Fabricio Mancebo, Creative & Strategic Brand Manager, to get first-hand information about its flagship product, Ecolife Yarns, which is increasingly successful among major international fashion firms.
What does Belda Llórens do?
Belda Llórens is a family manufacturing company producing open-end yarn, with 65 years of experience in the field.
For 30 years, we have been manufacturing ecological yarn with recycled material. Initially, it was a matter of competitiveness, as we pioneered the use of coloured recycled cotton to produce quality yarn for the fashion industry. This gave us two advantages and considerable saving strategies. Firstly, we did not need to dye the cotton, which resulted in economic and environmental cost reduction and secondly, we were using recycled fibre, cheaper than virgin cotton.
For most of this period, we did not value the use of these sustainable raw materials since they were associated with very low-quality yarn and low prices. Furthermore, we had always been clear about one thing —the importance of quality. Quality is non-negotiable and we have always produced sustainable yarn with quality standards comparable to that conventionally produced.
What is ECOLIFE?
Ecolife Yarns is our flagship product. It is a brand that was created 5 years ago to value our work over the past 25 years.
It was 2 years ago that we started to devote all our production and development to position the brand on the international market as the one with sustainable yarn and the most variety, widest colour palette, best quality and service. We want to be the benchmark of high-quality sustainable yarn, offering Eco-viscose, Recycled Cotton, Ecovero, BCI Cotton and Recycled Polyester.
What does recycling mean to you, in the widest possible sense of the word, and what is your current environmental footprint?
We have recycling and the use of sustainable raw material in our DNA. We have just published our sustainability report for 2019 and all our savings are open to the public and audited by Aitex, one of Europe’s most relevant textile technology institutes. As an example, with our 2019 production we have prevented the plantation and pick-up of cotton in an area 13 times as big as New York and have saved the equivalent of 2,800 Olympic swimming-pools of water.
What is the added value of your structural innovation? In other words, what makes Belda Llórens stand out as a pioneering innovative yarn company in Europe?
We have always been a step ahead of the competition regarding new developments, investment in innovation and the use of raw materials that were not traditionally used in the open-end system. We work with wool, linen, Tencel®, fine yarn numbers, and so on.
To which markets and kinds of fashion companies do you distribute your yarn?
We operate in most European, northern Africas, Latin American and US markets with our distribution depots—in the US, both on the west and east coasts.
We sell to all kinds of companies and have recently established direct partnerships with major brands and fashion giants, which makes us happy, as we can see how our work and choice for sustainability are now a reality and are here to stay.
Regarding prices, what is the current position of ECOLIFE compared to traditional yarn?
Our yarn is competitive, and we add great value to our clients with our Stock Service of more than 1,700 products, including different colours and quality.
We obviously cannot compete with the prices of Indian, Pakistani or Chinese manufacturers… Our product is quite different focusing much more on fast fashion, where stock service is of vital importance.
Regarding sustainability and responsible consumption, do you think that fashion companies are managing to educate their customers? How can that be improved?
I think that there is still a long way to go but the most important thing is that more and more end users are demanding sustainable fashion, which seems to be turning into a reality.
Sustainability does not begin with recycling. I never get tired of saying it—it begins with sustainable design. That is critical, and we must especially consider sustainability as what it is: a global vision which intervenes in company management, a contribution to society and work for the environment.
What is ECOLIFE’s overall turnover?
Well, so far this year, growth has been increasing exponentially, and there was a boom during and after COVID-19. It has been like a particle accelerator for the textile industry—taking it at a tremendous speed to a model where consumers practically force the industry to be more environmentally friendly, and to do things differently, showing care for the planet.
In 2019 we were selling 10% of Ecolife and now this has increased to 45% in Spain, Italy, Portugal and the US.
What are your expansion and development plans for the future?
We have lots of projects underway! The truth is that our day-to-day work is exciting.
We can talk about the 100% sustainable coloured cotton yarn that we are going to launch, which is dye-free, or our new biodegradable polyester. We are already working on the traceability of our yarn and products through Blockchain to reinforce our clients’ trust and that of the end user. We are planning to expand to Asian markets and we have already signed a close cooperation agreement with another leading textile-sustainability company worldwide—Textloop – Circular Systems.
We have created a very powerful team and we are facing the future with confidence; we are constantly changing, and we encourage you to join our Ecolife Movement. ‘Be part of the change & Live the cycle of colour’ is our motto!
What are your goals for the coming years?
Well, if we continue working in this direction, we will certainly see our ECOLIFE innovations and labels flood the fashion market since they guarantee a sustainable and high-quality product, which will mean that the fashion industry will truly leave its dark side behind.
Photo credits: Belda Llórens