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Materials that matter: Valérius

Meet the award-winning Portuguese trailblazer behind one of COS’ most-loved fabrics and find out how it is fabricating a more sustainable future for jersey.

Images courtesy of Valérius

When it comes to making more sustainable choices with your wardrobe, sometimes it’s the smallest changes that can make the biggest impact. The jersey fabric has long proved its place as an everyday wardrobe essential – and for good reason. It’s soft, breathable and long lasting, making it perfect for those trusty staples we rely on daily – such as T-shirts, tops, sweatshirts and underwear. Going back to basics and making better choices with these pieces is a simple – yet effective – way to future-proof one of fashion’s most-loved fabrics.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that COS has gone the extra mile to secure the finest quality jersey for its collections. Its quest led it to the picturesque Portuguese region of Minho and the home of award-winning jersey specialist, Valérius. Since joining the COS family in 2009, the partnership has blossomed into a long-standing collaboration of two global giants sharing the same vision of quality, sustainability and innovation. ‘When we crossed paths with COS, we knew we were on the same wavelength’, says José Manuel Vilas Boas Ferreira, Valérius’ CEO. ‘They were looking for a manufacturer with the knowledge of delivering unique production results and willing to upgrade to newer more responsible ways of textile manufacturing. Since then, we’ve been on this long-lasting partnership, in which we work very closely, every day, motivating each other to create beautiful yet meaningful clothing.’

‘Since day one, we’ve been on this long-lasting partnership with COS to create beautiful yet meaningful clothing.’

When it comes to jersey material innovation, few manufacturers are as synonymous with progress and quality as Valérius. ‘Our commitment to quality is in the very fabric of being’, explains Manuel. ‘The name Valérius comes from the Latin word Valere which has two meanings: to be strong and to prevail – representing our abilities, competence and long-lasting relationships.’ Now over 25 years into its legacy, the Portuguese trailblazer is focusing its energy on recycling to close the loop on textile waste. ‘To achieve our goals, we’re guided by essential values of quality, sustainability and innovation’, says Manuel. ‘Our aim is to become the most sustainable manufacturer for brands around the world.’

We got down to details with the team at the Valérius headquarters to discuss sustainability, the revolution of jersey recycling and the extraordinary journey of an everyday COS signature.

Images courtesy of Valérius

‘Since day one, we have had a dedicated team focused on COS. They are highly experienced problem solvers who tackle any challenges that come with taking a product from the first to final stages. Through years of collaboration, they understand the details that make a COS piece unique and make sure the production of these is carried out flawlessly, in the most efficient way possible.’

‘It all starts with a conversation. We meet with the team to analyze the pattern and select the right materials and details needed for the design. In terms of materials, there are two options: make use of what’s available in the market, or for a more unique design, we look at developing this with one of our specialist partners. After the material is chosen, a 3D prototype is created, so we can detect any adjustments without wasting fabric. When the physical prototype is approved, we produce a series of size sets to identify any changes that might be needed so that consistency is secured across the variations of one product. We’ll then pass it on to the hands of our experienced workers for production – after all, we’re located in an area historically distinguished for its textile prowess. Here, a dedicated person oversees the quality and makes sure the minimum amount of textile waste is created. Then it’s time for the final touches: the piece is ironed, folded and packaged with care.’

Images courtesy of Valérius

‘In the beginning, like much of the surrounding companies in the Portuguese Minho region, we worked solely as producers, manufacturing clothes for the fashion markets. Then, gradually, our company started working with bigger, better-known, international brands, which were fundamental in introducing us to new quality standards and rapidly improving our working processes. This led to an early adoption of more sustainable materials and treatments that quickly became a huge staple of Valérius.’

‘Here, we’re able to closely oversee all the work that goes into creating the fabric we use, from the spinning process to dyeing and finishing, making sure that the product design is respected and sustainable standards are complied with. Now, all the cutting waste generated in the manufacturing process (not only fabric but also any plastic and paper that might be used) goes to our recycling unit to be transformed into new assets. Besides reducing the amount of fabric discarded to landfills, we’ve cut back the use of primary resources by at least 50% and reduced the use of chemicals, water and energy by at least 83%.’

‘We’re guided by essential values of quality, sustainability and innovation. Our aim is to become the most sustainable manufacturer for brands around the world.’

‘Our biggest accomplishment certainly has to be the Valérius 360 project: our very own textile recycling unit. Established in 2017, this project aims to retrieve every reusable jersey fabric present in textile industrial waste from our customers’ and our own manufacturing facilities and return it to the 360-recycling plant and get the chance to gain a new life as a “reborn” jersey fabric.’

‘With this operation already established, we also have scheduled test trials for recycled cotton paper production (using fibers not fully indicated to be re-used in a textile context) to begin later this year, further diminishing our waste generation.’

‘The road ahead will definitely be based around a circular fashion model – and it has already started. Right now, our plan is to keep supporting new sustainable projects but also keep investing in further developing our own Valérius 360, which currently works in the pre-consumer world – closing the loop by recycling our partners’ cutting waste. Hopefully, we will be able to expand to post-consumer fabric waste in the next couple of years too.’

‘Besides the optimization of existing resources, we are also keen on exploring new ways to achieve responsible material options and ways to treat them, such as the application of biosciences to the textile industry, making cotton in a laboratory and using microorganisms in dyeing and finishing processes.’

‘Continuing to work with COS is important in the future for us. From the beginning, they have shaped and inspired our way of thinking, which is an integral part of our company and our mission towards a more sustainable future.'

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