An Unprecedented Campaign to Clean the Oceans of Plastic Debris and Transform it Into Fashion

Pharrell Williams curates the first collaboration between his eco-material company Bionic Yarn and the Dutch denim brand G-Star Raw to support The Vortex Project, an initiative to turn ocean plastic into a new generation of denim clothes

“Creativity is the key to saving creation from our darker side and the key to a future of ecological harmony between humanity and the diversity of wondrous species we share this planet with.”

- Captain Paul Watson


“I love the ocean. It’s always been an inspiration to me. How it works, its depth, what it emotes, its relations to the moon, its cycles, and the inhabitants of the ocean. You can never know enough. There is so much down there and in there; it’s a huge inspiration to me.”

- Pharrell Williams


ParleyAt a press conference under the spectacular suspended blue whale replica at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA Saturday evening joined with partners Bionic Yarn and Parley for the Oceans for the global launch of The Vortex Project, an unprecedented partner campaign to clean the oceans of plastic debris and transform it into fashion. Attendees were gathered for the launch of its first collaboration, ‘RAW for the Oceans,’ a long-term partnership between denim brand G-Star RAW and Bionic Yarn to turn ocean plastic into denim with a purpose. The New York Fashion Week event was part of Parley for the Oceans, an initiative comprised of artists, activists, tastemakers, entrepreneurs and innovators to address and solve the plastic pollution problem impacting ocean ecosystems. Sea Shepherd is an official partner of Parley for the Oceans and together with Parley for the Oceans and Bionic Yarn, co-founder of The Vortex Project.

The Vortex Project takes waste from the oceans and shorelines, and recycles, enhances, and reuses it for yarn, fabric, and other elements in consumer products. Official Parley Partners will use the reclaimed plastic waste from the oceans to create exclusive products with a unique product story. They will also seek to close the loop by again recycling these products at the end their product life and manufacturing new products in such a way as to not further pollute.

The press conference was held at the American Museum of Natural History under the magnificent blue whale replica in the Hall of Ocean LifeThe press conference was held at the American Museum of Natural History under the magnificent blue whale replica in the Hall of Ocean Life
Photo credit: BFA NYC
At the launch, highly acclaimed photographer and environmentalist David LaChapelle, advisory board member to The Vortex Project, introduced iconic conservationist and Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson, who gave an extensive State of the Oceans address to the crowd of 300 fashion industry professionals, celebrities including Joe Jonas (The Jonas Brothers), David Blaine (magician), Adrienne Bailon (“Cheetah Girls”), and Tyson Beckford (Supermodel), and media gathered in attendance. Other speakers included Bionic Yarn’s co-founding partners Tim Coombs and Tyson Toussant, G-Star RAW CMO Thecla Schaeffer and Sea Shepherd R&D Scientist of The Vortex Project, John Davis. Speakers from The Vortex Project Support Network included CEO of Ocean Alliance Iain Kerr and Executive Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition Daniella Russo. The press conference closed with an address from Grammy winner, fashion entrepreneur and Creative Director of Bionic Yarn, Pharrell Williams and the first commercial that promotes the collection, RAW for the Oceans.

Sea Shepherd will lead The Vortex Project in the areas of collecting, scientific innovation and awareness-building, and will work with Sea Shepherd entities worldwide to mobilize teams to help clean up the oceans and beaches.

RAW for the Oceans is a G-Star Raw collection made with Bionic Yarn, curated by Pharrell Williams and made out of plastic recycled from the oceans. The collaboration is a long-term creative exploration, where both parties will join to innovate denim and commit to make an impact on the ocean plastic pollution problem. In addition to planned seasonal collections, G-Star will integrate Bionic Yarn material into its product lines wherever possible. The first collection made with recycled plastic from the oceans is slated to be in stores in August, 2014.

At Parley for the Oceans at Berlin Fashion Week last summer, Pharrell Williams and Captain Paul Watson introduced “The Vortex Project” which is a core initiative of the Parley movement. Experts from the fields of art, innovation, business, conservation and more came together to share knowledge and forge alliances.

Captain Watson discussed the State of the Oceans at the eventCaptain Watson discussed the State of the Oceans at the event
Photo credit: BFA NYC
Captain Paul Watson is enthused about helping to launch this unique partnership. About the endeavor, he says: “Plastic is choking our oceans and precious marine wildlife at an unprecedented rate. Straws, single-use bags, six-pack rings, drink lids and more are ensnaring marine animals or blocking their digestive systems, killing these magnificent creatures. It’s time humanity takes responsibility for our actions and cleans up the mess we’ve made. We hope this is the first of many meaningful collaborations to come.”

Musician and entrepreneur, Pharrell Williams has been the Creative Director of Bionic Yarn since 2009. About the collaboration, he says: “Working with G-Star was an obvious choice because they have a legacy of pushing the boundaries of fashion and denim forward. Bionic Yarn is a company built around performance, and denim is the perfect category to show the world what our product can do. Everyone has jeans in their closet."

The ‘RAW for the Oceans’ collection will be available at selected G-Star RAW stores and online from August 15th.

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