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Walmart partners with unspun, leveraging 3D weaving technology to reduce textile waste

By Vivian Hendriksz


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unspun x Walmart Credits: Walmart Inc.

Walmart has announced a new pilot project with textile innovator unspun to reduce the environmental impact of garment production.

Through the project, Walmart will work with unspun to see how the company’s 3D weaving machines can be utilized to produce workwear-style pants under a Walmart house brand. A pioneering fashion tech company based in Oakland, California, unspun developed Vega, the world’s first 3D weaving technology, which efficiently transforms yarn into garments.

If the project is successful, it could lower the environmental footprint of clothing production and provide a more sustainable process to meet fashion needs. The new collaboration aligns with both companies' mutual goal of revitalizing textile manufacturing in the United States while directly addressing growing concerns regarding waste in the apparel industry.

Walmart & unspun launch project to pioneer fast, efficient yarn-to-garment conversion

The drive for more sustainable apparel manufacturing solutions stems mainly from the waste generated through traditional methods—fabric loss due to flat weaving, cutting, garment assembly, and excess inventory created to match consumer demand and fashion trends. Additionally, the emissions from transporting garments and fabrics from overseas suppliers have intensified the need for greener supply chain practices.

“At Walmart, we are laser-focused on bringing innovation to our supply chain to better serve our customers and solve industry challenges, and unspun has the potential to do just that,” commented Andrea Albright, executive vice president for sourcing at Walmart, in a statement. “The technology we are piloting with unspun has the potential to unlock more skilled job creation in the US, meet consumer demand for locally made garments and deliver on our commitment for greater transparency and sustainability in our apparel supply chain.”

Vega Credits: Unspun

New pilot to test 3D weaving for Walmart brand pants

Throughout the pilot project, the companies aim to test the application of unspun's 3D weaving technology in workwear style pants for Walmart. 3D weaving technology sees yarn being spun directly into finished garments in a new approach to garment manufacturing. With traditional manufacturing, yarn is made into flat fabrics, then cut and sewn together, a process that's wasteful, time-consuming, and involves many steps. Unlike 3D printing, which builds objects layer by layer from a digital model, 3D weaving creates garments in one step. If successful, both companies aim to expand the collaboration to other garments.

“The pressing need to address ongoing climate change, reduce carbonization, and drive to more transparent and localized apparel manufacturing practices is at the heart of our mission,” said Beth Esponnette, co-founder of unspun, in a statement. “We have been running low-volume production of commercial products at our first micro-factory with proven third-party life cycle assessments to back the impact of this new type of production. Now, together with Walmart, we see an enormous opportunity to take our innovations to scale, with the potential to disrupt the garment manufacturing industry, bring jobs to the USA, and drastically reduce waste in apparel.”

The new project builds on unspun’s plans to establish multiple microsites for on- and near-shored manufacturing with a manufacturing partner. At the same time, the new partnership also supports unspun’s goal to install more than 350 Vega machines across North America by 2030 to reach an annual production capacity of approximately 10 million units.

"unspun's technology aims to be the fastest, highest quality, and most economical way to make woven garments period. Innovative industry leaders like Walmart are beginning to see the future potential impact, and we expect there to be continued interest as the unspun team weaves the future of manufacturing," added Shuo Yang from Lowercarbon Capital, a leading climate-tech investor.

Walmart has recently introduced a series of tech innovations, including drone delivery expansions and AI enhancements, at CES 2024, along with a new pilot for carbon capture in apparel manufacturing announced in July 2023. Committed to sustainability since 2005, Walmart aims for 50 percent renewable energy by 2025, with over 5,900 suppliers participating in Project Gigaton, significantly contributing to exceeding their 1 billion metric ton reduction goal ahead of schedule.

3D Weaving
local production
Sustainable manufacturing
Textile Waste
Walmart Inc.