Dutch textile innovation company Byborre is committed to shifting towards a circular textile economy and raised nearly 17 million euros in an investment round in early February. With the capital injection, textile designer and ByBorre co-founder Borre Akkersdijk aims to expand internationally and continue investing in automation, materials research and data analysis to make the supply chain more efficient, productive and transparent. Akkersdijk explains to FashionUnited exactly what Byborre has to offer.
Byborre Create is a textile design tool launched in 2020. Global market leaders in the fashion, sportswear, interior design and automotive industries work with the tool to design high-quality textiles from the yarn, add a brand-appropriate design and regain control over the ecological footprint.
In 2022, Byborre Textiles was added. Through this resource library, brands can browse and view samples with the aim of making responsible textiles available. ByBorre Textiles is a selection of ready-to-order fabrics designed using Byborre's circular knitting techniques which consist of traceable materials suitable for a wide range of uses. Brands and designers can directly place a production order here.
How did you get started?
I come from the design world. I have always been very interested in everything on and around the body. This includes textiles. We don't think about it, but they are an everyday product that we come into contact with every day from the moment we are born. There is probably nothing we use more than textiles and I thought it was crazy that, as manufacturers and designers, we had no control and could not make decisions about making textiles. Before, as a designer, you had to just choose from what was presented to you. I believed this needed to change.
In 2015, I met Arnoud Haverlag who brought his knowledge from the tech world. We combined his knowledge with my own knowledge on textiles - from yarns to knitting machines - and started our mission to digitise the textile design and production process. Because, with digitisation, you can control everything to make, in this case, textiles. This involves choosing a colour that is optically mixed, knitting graphic patterns and choosing from responsible materials. In the end, we developed a programme for this that we actually always used ourselves: Byborre Create. We noticed that more and more brands started using the tool, which also created a demand for ready-to-order textiles that they could buy from us.
By adding Textiles to Byborre, we are further meeting the needs of designers. Our textiles come with a textile passport, which contains information on the origin of the materials and the emissions that were saved in the process. It also specifies the percentage of recycled materials in the textile and its water consumption. We want to be as transparent as possible in everything we do.
How does textile manufacturing work?
It's really quite simple: people who know how to work with computer programmes like Photoshop and Illustrator can make textiles with us. Starting with the software programme: that's where one finds a series of textile packages to choose from. When one specifies what kind of product they want to create, a number of options will be available. The designer can choose from a range of composite compositions that range from recycled and zero-microplastic yarns to natural fibres such as merino wool or organic cotton. Next, it's time to start designing. Utilise the unique brand identity or design to play with textures and colours to make for unique textiles. This is done in Byborre Create [the textile design tool, ed.] and is not possible in Byborre Textiles [the textile library, ed.]. After designing, it is time to produce. After the design is submitted to us at ByBorre, the sample is made at our knitting lab. The designer receives the sample within two weeks. When they are satisfied with the sample, threy can place an order with a low minimum order quantity. At Create, samples go by the metre. Production starts from four hundred metres for a custom design. At Textiles, one can order from as little as dozens of metres.
Byborre is not only active in the fashion industry. Where else do you operate?
Yes, Byborre is also active in the interior sector where we make upholstery for sofas, among other things. We are also active within the automotive industry and work with BMW, for example. Within the fashion world, we work with high-end brands, such as Alexander McQueen and Palace Skateboards, as well as young talent and emerging brands.
We work together within all industries to make textile use transparent and make fewer but higher-quality products. We currently have over a thousand designers working on our platform, including more than 300 brands.
What exactly are the plans regarding the capital injection?
First of all, we want to grow internationally in key markets such as Italy, Scandinavia and the United States to strengthen Byborre's position. These countries are where a lot of production happens and that means many influential brands are present. So there is an impact to be made there. We will increase our presence in these markets by creating local teams and investing in the production chain so that it is as well connected as possible per region. Earlier, we invested in Japan, as it was a source of inspiration for many designers. There, the focus was on ‘Byborre Editions’ which functioned as a showcase. As a result, many initial collaborations took off and we created a lot of brand awareness over the years.
The next step is to make the ByBorre software programme even more accessible. For instance, the design tool will be revamped and the textile range will be expanded. Byborre Create will be fleshed out even more, allowing designers to be even more creative. For Byborre Textiles: a broader textile collection that is transparent and immediately accessible.
What does this growth leap mean for Byborre?
An investment is a step in a business’ growth that allows you as a company to innovate. Innovation costs money. If you want to keep a certain speed in innovation, those kinds of steps are necessary. I think we know where our brand values lie. We have reached a point where, when we develop textiles, we replace textiles as they used to be. With that, we are making a positive impact. It's not often that you find a flywheel, for which goes: the bigger, the better. Because, the more textiles we sell, the more of a positive impact we make. I think Byborre has the opportunity to help the industry and we may continue to do so for a long time.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.NL. Translation and editing from Dutch into English by Veerle Versteeg.