Updated: 9:30 am, Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Cleveland-based fashion line Found Surface launched a new collection Saturday, featuring four casual, everyday pieces made entirely from sustainable materials.
The clothing is made from organic cotton sourced from Texas, plastic bottles and recycled cotton. The goal, said founder and designer Aidan Meany, 21, is for every aspect of the company to operate with sustainability in mind.
“This whole enterprise … doesn’t exist without the foundation of being sustainable and trying to grow this apparel industry in Cleveland,” he said. “That’s the whole foundation that it’s based on, not just some sort of campaign that we’re trying to convince people of.”
The unisex collection includes two turtleneck tops, a pair of pants and a jacket, all of which come in a choice of four rich, vibrant colors. The necklines of both tops are filled with plush fibers made from plastic bottles from the Gulf of Mexico that are recycled and cleaned in North Carolina using steam and solar energy.
“The recycling process is also incredibly sustainable,” Meany said. “Even when we bring the bottles in, they need to be cleaned and when we clean them, the steam generated is used and sucked into another steam-powered machine. So even the cleaning also provides the energy for the process steps.”
The clothing is designed to “be as universal as possible” and to look good on all genders and skin tones, Meany said.
“When people put this on, it’s hard to even describe how people react,” he said. “You see it on their face, and they feel good and comfortable.”
Found Surface, a clothing line created by 21-year-old Aidan Meany, launched a four-piece unisex collection made entirely from sustainable materials on Saturday. [Ben Friend / Found Surface]
Garments can be purchased online at the Found Surface website. Prices range from $249 to $399.
Meany began thinking about the collection in 2019 and began developing Found Surface during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when he said he couldn’t ignore supply chain issues and shipping delays across the country. .
“That’s when I realized that if we tamed our supply chains and used the resources that we have around us, we could really solve a lot of those problems,” he said. “I was like, well, I know how to make clothes. That’s what I can bring to the table. So I will learn how to do that sustainably and build our community here locally.”
Although he had a strong vision for his eco-friendly, national fashion brand, much of the company’s early development was spent researching sustainable businesses that Meany could partner with.
Meany met with companies across the country while studying Industrial and Interactive Design at Syracuse University in New York. The only barrier his age presented in the process was balancing Found Surface with his schoolwork, he said. Although she was often the youngest person in the room, she saw it as an opportunity to learn from others.
“I’ve never had a problem earning respect,” he said. “People can… invest hope in a younger person and they can see the potential to see that the sky is the limit when you are young. So, I’ve always seen it as an advantage.”
Found Surface grew into a multigenerational family business and includes Meany’s grandmother, who taught Aidan how to sew when he was 14, his uncle, and his parents.
After garments are cut and sewn, they are dyed in small batches with dyes that are better for both the fabric and the wearer’s skin.
No fabric is wasted at Found Surface, as all waste fabric is repurposed into usable yarn used to make handbags. Bags are included free with every order or can be purchased on the website for $39.99.
I found the Surface Tote Bag, made entirely from scrap fabric that was previously repurposed into usable yarn. The bag is included with every clothing order and can be purchased individually for $39.99. [Ben Friend / Found Surface]
Fast fashion companies tend to do all garment production in one place, Meany said, which can be a commercially attractive and fast production system, but can lead to poor working conditions and low pay.
“This is not how it should be done,” he said. “It took a long time to really facilitate the supply chain and make it durable and have good response times and make sure everyone is paid respectfully and fairly.”
All products ship with zero-waste recyclable packaging, including a recycled paper tag, hemp string, and recyclable aluminum pins.
Found Surface offers carbon-neutral shipping by calculating the dollar amount of the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere during the shipping process and donating that amount of money directly to a renewable energy resource located near where the order was placed.
Found Surface will launch T-shirts made from recycled water bottle textiles next year that will cost $12-$15 wholesale along with other products made entirely from recycled plastic.
“Using water bottles as textiles is really profitable, he said. “It’s a question of infrastructure, it’s a question of investing in our city to establish the capacity to make all these different components and not rely on shipping them across the country.”
Cleveland was the second largest clothing manufacturer in the 1920s, and Meany said many of the old factories are still in the city. He hopes to bring his partners to the city to repurpose those buildings and reestablish Cleveland as a hub for sustainable fashion.
Doing so, Meany said, would allow Found Surface to reduce its overall carbon footprint while also providing sustainable clothing at a reduced price.
“There’s a way to do everything,” Meany said. “It’s just about people getting together and solving those problems, which is something we’re really interested in doing now.”
This story originally said that the new collection included a hoodie instead of a jacket.