Never New - Our intimates repurposed from t-shirts

Welcome to my second blog, It seems oddly fitting to be sharing our story behind the ideation and development of our intimates brand, Never New, as today begins another of Aotearoa’s level 4 lockdown. A time that can be very scary and uncertain for many. The blog was a joint effort written by Anna Atkinson and myself, Sam.

Never new’s initial concept came to me in our first covid lockdown, a time where I felt completely shocked and lost at the prospect of the world as my mum suddenly passed three days in. As a result, it’s where I began spending a lot of time collecting sea glass at the beach (something I am still doing regularly - I feel very connected to mum when collecting). Picking up these pieces of sea glass had me thinking, what else already exists in this world that could be repurposed? That’s when the lightbulb lit up, intimates repurposed from t-shirts!

This idea stuck with me, but it wasn’t until I voiced my thoughts to a high-school friend and founder of her own fashion brand Anna of Anna Jean Kos.

I wanted to create something both for women and for the environment. Cotton t-shirts are so commonly bought and discarded, with no thought to their post-consumer life, so it seemed like the perfect place to start.

Anna had just moved back to Aotearoa, and spent her managed isolation experience designing swimwear using deadstock and recycled fabrics. So it was obvious our ideologies and values aligned. 

Having no prior experience on how to design or manufacture pieces, partnering up with Anna has been a dream collaboration as that’s where her expertise have flourished, so much so that as we planned and discussed, our project organically grew into something we knew needed to be its own brand.

The name Never New was chosen as more than a way to show what we were about, but it’s also a way to hold us accountable to our goal, to never use new fabrics.

The design and manufacturing process started in the AJK studio. I brought over some t-shirts and Anna started developing and sampling what would become our, now, first collection pieces.

After Anna refined and tested the pieces, the patterns were drawn up and ready to go. As two young women starting out in business, ‘capital’ was fairly non-existent for us so each t-shirt was hand sourced from local thrift stores and each pattern element was cut by hand (a much longer process than you’d think). Anna then worked her magic and created each piece herself. Our labels are screen printed onto second hand t-shirts and cut to size, scraps are also used to attach swings tags when shipping your orders out to you.

The support we have had on our first release has been amazing and has put us in good stead working towards our next collections.

Circular fashion infographic

We’ve been lucky enough to have had an amazing amount of support, especially from local brand Little Yellow Bird. Samantha CEO and her team are doing awesome things for the fashion industry at the moment. Little Yellow Bird have just launched their cotton recycling initiative, the first of its kind in Aotearoa. However, sending t-shirts to be recycled is still a last resort. They have kindly gifted us unworn and unusable t-shirts that we are now working with a manufacturer to repurpose in our next release, with more collaborations planned in the future. Check them out here

The basis of Never New is to upcycle post-consumer products, being as circular and closed looped as possible. It’s an expression of our values of sustainability, inclusivity and creativity. A huge part of why we’re so passionate about this project is the collaborative and creative aspect.

The goal of Simple Studios has always been to bring creative women together and provide a platform. Never New is our testament to this and we’re incredibly proud of what it has become, and what it will grow to be.

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