• A Cape Town-based clothing brand is taking discarded plastic bottles found on beaches and turning them into men’s boardshorts.
  • Each boardie is made from around 20 plastic bottles.
  • The bottles are sourced from India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia and Thailand - some of the world’s largest dumping grounds of discarded plastic waste.
  • If you didn’t know they were made from plastic, you wouldn’t be able to guess. 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za. 

Cape Town-based clothing brand GiLo Lifestyle are hell bent on ethical and sustainable fashion. So much so they are taking discarded plastic bottles found on beaches around the world and turning them into men’s shorts. 

Photo Jay Caboz
GiLo Lifestyle boardies made form plastic bottles. Photo Jay Caboz.

It could go a long way towards helping reduce single-use plastic as almost 20 plastic bottles can make one pair of shorts. The shorts are water repellent, quick-dry and seamless on the inner thigh so no chafing - a bonus for those of you planning on spending long days out surfing over summer. 

The best bit is if you didn’t know they were made from plastic, you wouldn’t be able to guess - they're surprisingly soft to touch and stretchy. 

Photo Jay Caboz
GiLo Lifestyle boardies made form plastic bottles. Photo Jay Caboz.

The company was founded by South Africans Gina Tarboton and Loren Dyer, two women with a love of fashion and the environment. They began GiLo Lifestyle in 2015. 

“We always wanted to find ways in helping the planet, animals and our oceans. We've been looking for fabrics like this for 8 to 10 years and eventually I stumbled across the boardshorts factory while at a big trade show in China, I asked them about fabrics made from plastic and specifically plastic from the oceans - as it’s very concerning what’s happening to our sea life and the amount of litter washed up on our beaches. They said yes, they have just sourced factories making this type of fabric,” said Tarboton.

The company has been selling their range of plastic converted clothing since November 2018. 


How they’re made:

The bottles are sourced mainly from India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia and Thailand. These are some of the world’s largest dumping grounds for discarded plastic waste. 

Step 1: Plastic bottles are stripped of caps and labels, and then thoroughly cleaned to remove any residue or contaminants. 

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Step 2: The plastic is processed into flakes and washed again to ensure there is nothing left but 100% RPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). 

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Step 3: The clean flakes are transformed into small pellets of pure recycled plastic. 

Step 4: The pellets are then stretched out and made into yarn, which is then woven into fabric. When the yarn is woven into fabric, 8% spandex is added to give the fabric 4-way stretch. 

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Step 5: The fabric is digitally printed with the company's designs and are seamless to prevent chaffing.

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While there is plenty of plastic in South Africa, they say there is currently no infrastructure in the country to make the material here - hence why the shorts are manufactured overseas. But, a future plan of the company is to start making it locally.  


The name GiLo (pronounced- Gee Low) is an acronym for Giving Love back to the planet. 

GiLo Lifestyle shorts made from plastic bottles. Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz
GiLo Lifestyle boardies made from plastic bottles. Photo Jay Caboz.

You can also buy hats, lifestyle shorts, and even synthetically made ‘down’ jackets for men and women. They also plan on introducing kids shorts for the summer.  

Prices range between R600-R900, depending on the style. 

“We wanted to promote the idea that high quality clothing can be ethically created. We have the hope of changing consumer’s mindsets and making a difference to both people and the planet by providing stylish clothing without guilt,” said Tarboton.


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