Textile innovator LifeLabs revealed its first fall collection designed to fight climate change on Tuesday.
Through LifeLabs’ patented, thermally efficient and high-performance textiles, wearers can better manage their own body temperatures and not have to resort to constant fiddling with the thermostat.
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Air-conditioning alone accounts for about 12 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Americans, perhaps bleakly, spend the majority of their lives indoors. A 2001 study by The National Human Activity Pattern Survey found the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors.
It’s for these reasons Stanford materials and engineering professor Yi Cui founded LifeLabs atop six years of research and nearly a dozen patents on the premise of helping people address wastefulness in energy usage with what they wear.
Cui brought on Scott Mellin, formerly of The North Face, as chief executive officer to help embed scientific innovations into minimal-yet-technically sound apparel that would introduce a new era of sustainability framed on personal energy usage.
Mellin believes electric cars (led by Tesla), solar and wind unfairly dominate the energy transformation conversation today. But, he said, “If those are the three big tools we have at our disposal for energy transformation and lowering our carbon footprint, they’re not really democratic, and they’re not super accessible. Cars between $50,000 and $250,000 is not a universal solution.”
“We clothe ourselves every day, why can’t clothing be a tool for energy transformation?” he continued.
To answer that call, LifeLabs dropped its fall 2021 collection called “72 Hours.” It’s a modular wardrobe with men’s, women’s and unisex styles meant to carry wearers from the week to the weekend. Styles retail for $73 for a T-shirt to $293 for a jacket on LifeLabs’ website.
Polyethylene is the core material for “WarmLife” and “CoolLife” proprietary yarn-based textiles. The material boasts a lower material impact score than nylon and polyester on the Higg Index’s cradle-to-gate product score, according to Mellin. The patented, breathable metallic nano-coating is what gives the apparel its infrared edge with WarmLife, for example, able to achieve the same level of warmth with one-third of the materials. What little insulation is needed for the designs is made of 100 percent recycled polyester for the face fabric and laminated to a biobased polyurethane.
Seated in plain, modular frames and a LifeLabs vest, Mellin considers himself a “minimalist in apparel but an essentialist in gear,” which lends to the collection’s duality. As for the brand, he points back to the original mission in helping any individual that “wants to participate in lowering their carbon footprint.”
Per LifeLabs’ estimates, its CoolLife products allow customers to raise their thermostat by an additional 2 degrees in the summer, resulting in a savings of roughly 400 pounds of carbon per household per year. WarmLife boasts similar payoff, allowing a household to save 480 pounds of carbon per year, assuming the energy adjustments are made on both accounts.
Eyeing circularity in the future, Mellin said “the mechanisms for recycling our product have not been put in place,” but noted that the product already boasts certain sustainable swaps like QR codes in place of hangtags.
LifeLabs anticipates the release of its spring collection in January, which will add new technological innovations to its suite.