Reborn x Sunbrella beach tote | Photo by Allie Mullin

Sustainable Sunny Style

In April 2020, Stuff by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Emily Neville gives new life to Sunbrella’s leftover fabric.

Most people would assume that leftover scraps of fabric belong in the trash, but Emily Neville, founder of Raleigh-based Reborn Clothing Co., sees their potential to become something new and exciting. 

In her sophomore year at NC State, Neville started Reborn as a way to repurpose perfectly good pieces of clothing into pillow cases, blankets and other products that otherwise would be thrown away. Now, Neville is releasing a line of beach totes and zipper pouches in collaboration with the international fabric manufacturer Sunbrella, which specializes in patio furniture, awnings and more. Neville saw how much textile waste Sunbrella was generating at its headquarters in Burlington, NC—only an hour away from her Reborn HQ—and suggested a collaboration. “They didn’t have a consumer partner yet so we wanted to offer this product to their consumers who are already in love with their fabric,” Neville said. Sunbrella’s sustainability director saw how a partnership with Reborn would be a great solution, and so, for the past year, Neville and her team have been working on designs and putting together the final products. 

Given Sunbrella fabric’s ability to endure sun damage, and the other potential harms to textiles that can naturally occur from being outdoors, beach totes readily came to mind for Neville as a logical product proposal. Her team selected six body colors that they then matched with the thousands of pounds of Sunbrella’s patterned textile waste, delivered to Reborn’s facility every week. Depending on the size of fabric scrap that comes in, it’s made into either a large beach bag or small zipper pouch, with each piece emerging as truly unique. The bright fabrics from Sunbrella’s colorful spring and summer collections are carried through to the bags and accessories to ensure that they’ll be fun and appeal to both the average Sunbrella and Reborn customer all season long. Neville sees the collection as approachable for all ages; the zipper pouches are great for younger girls while the beach tote is perfect for keeping all the essentials in one place on a family beach trip. 

Part of Neville’s passion for the Sunbrella project came from wanting to honor the labor and energy that had gone into making the company’s fabric. “We didn’t want to see this perfectly usable, brand new condition fabric shredded or sold for pennies a pound,” Neville says. “What we want to see is the thousands of gallons of water and energy that went into making this fabric be continued into a new product.” Sunbrella, too, wanted to give its leftover fabric a new life.

“This partnership with Reborn Clothing Co. offers a unique way to revitalize and repurpose what would previously be considered ‘unusable’ fabrics into creative, exclusive tote bags, each individual in its design,” said David Dean, head of research and development for Glen Raven, Sunbrella’s parent company. 

Neville hopes the partnership will help show other brands that the idea of repurposing what might seem like throw-away fabric is possible, and that collaborations like these are ideal. Through the collection, she’s shown that the idea is scalable from a manufacturing standpoint and produces a good quality product that consumers love. 

Reborn launched a limited release of its Sunbrella products on its website on May 20, with additional limited releases to come throughout the spring and summer seasons. 

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