For Fitness Pullets, econyl is the Holy Grail. “Since our creation in 2017, we have been looking for an eco-responsible material. But with each of our attempts, we have lost the second skin look of our women’s sportswear. It wasn’t breathable enough, snug enough, and we couldn’t find that touch of peach skin. So we never went all the way “, says Roxane Sutet, co-founder of Poulettes Fitness with Amélie Rivoire, until we found this material offered by Aquafil, an Italian company specializing in nylon.
Econyl is a recycled nylon fiber made primarily from plastic waste collected at sea, such as old fishing nets or bottles. Its elasticity and resistance make it an excellent alternative to the classic synthetic materials used for swimwear and sportswear.
Fund the prototypes
The young sportswear brand from Lyon had preferred to launch with a technical lycra, waiting to find the right material to launch eco-responsible lines. “From the beginning we wanted to break the codes of women’s sportswear with garments for all women and all body types, but also with eco-responsible outfits and local production. Unable to find the right material right away, we started production in Cholet, France, ”continues Roxane Sutet.
This compromise initially allowed Les Poulettes Fitness to make itself known while continuing to seek more sustainable alternatives. “We didn’t want to wait until we had the ideal product for launch, because to develop our products we first needed to have customer feedback. We launched a first crowdfunding on KissKissBankBank to start production, so we opted for a pre-order system directly on our site. “
Without spending too much on communication and marketing, the brand has opted for a network of ambassadors. There are about 500 today.
The founding team continued to search for more durable materials and, thanks to the turnover of the first collections, was able to finance the tests. As of 2019, the brand has made a profit of 38,000 euros. “It wasn’t easy, because every time we had to finance prototypes, sometimes pay membership fees, for many failures. At each attempt it costs us between 300 and 1,000 euros. But we didn’t want to give up on this important development. Fortunately, countries like Italy and Spain have made a lot of progress and, by dint of research, we have finally found it. ”
Extend your reseller network
Les Poulettes Fitness launched its first eco-responsible collection based on econyl in the fall of 2021. In total, 4,000 leggings, bras and tank tops have been designed, representing approximately 86 tons of recycled plastic waste. “Our recycled range already represents 80% of our total production and we are aiming for 100% recycled and organic cotton by the end of 2022”, says Roxane Sutet.
The only drawback: econyl fabrics are not printable. To offer printed and not just simple garments, the Poulettes Fitness are working on a new fabric, also made from recycled plastic bottles. “It is not difficult to find partners who offer recycled fabrics, especially since there is real demand from consumers and, increasingly, from big brands. On the other hand, it is more difficult to pass the test successfully when the material is in motion. We are very demanding on this. ”
Since January 2022, Poulettes Fitness has been distributed in the 57 Galeries Lafayette stores, as well as its classic retailers such as Le Vieux Campeur, specialty sports and running stores, and yoga studios. It is also present on marketplaces and on its own merchant site, which accounts for 60% of sales. “But we would like to reverse the trend so that our resellers’ share increases from 40% to 60% of our sales,” says Roxane Sutet.