With $175 for a jacket and $75 for a pair of pants, customers can buy a suit that is billed as being fully machine washable and dryable, and made from fabric that is 54 percent recycled polyester, 42 percent wool and 4 percent spandex.
The jackets and slacks are to be sold as separates under Sears' Covington Perfect brand, manufactured by Israeli firm Bagir Group Ltd. and are expected to hit the racks in U.S. stores in May. It takes about 25 2-liter polyethylene terephthalate bottles to produce enough polyester fiber to make a suit.
N.I. Teijin Shoji Inc. of New York announced the firms' plans on Tuesday. N.I. Teijin Shoji is a part of the high tech textile company that belongs to Japan's Teijin Group, a multinational corporation embracing 160 firms with a long history in the chemical industry.
Established in 1918, Teijin was the first company in Japan to produce rayon yarn. The company started its polyester fibers business in 1958 and has since positioned itself as a leading manufacturer of synthetic fibers.
Teijin's Eco-A-Wear textiles are being marketed as an environmentally friendly fabric for use in making suits and other apparel that appeal to business professionals who are interested in a "new generation of green fashion."
The manufacturing process does not rely on petroleum, says the company. It provides the simplified diagram below to illustrate how the recycled polyester fiber Teijin calls Ecopet is made and then spun with wool to create the Eco-A-Wear fabric.
Recovered PET bottles are milled into flakes, which are then granulated into pellets. The pellets are turned into the fiber that is blended with wool yarn to make the fabric.
Teijin first made a splash in producing textiles from recycled materials in partnership with Patagonia, when the two companies launched the Common Threads Recycling Program in 2005.
The first product involved in garment-to-garment recycling through Common Threads was Capilene (long) underwear. The process developed by Teijin enabled recycled Capilene to be used as raw material, which when substituted for petroleum resulted in new garments that were produced using 76 percent less energy and releasing 42 percent less carbon dioxide.
The Eco-A-Wear fabric was in development for two years before coming to market. Its promoters say it wears and drapes well for an easy-to-care-for look that is comfortable and, unlike polyester of bygone days, breathes.
Polyester suits for men made their appearance in the 1970s with generously cut two-piece leisure suits for the weekend and suburban set and fitted three-piece ensembles -- bell-bottomed slacks, vests and jackets -- that sold as separates for disco wear.
One of the more ubiquitous brands was Angels Flight, which was priced so that buyers could get a three-piece suit and a shirt or accessories for about $110. The suits came in a range of colors -- the expected black, brown, gray, tan, taupe and navy as well as the hues that marked the period: russet, rust, white and powder blue.
The pair below, which had been available through www.dressthatman.com, went for $21 in stores and was sold for $159.99, according to the website featuring men's vintage clothing.
Images courtesy of Teijin, except for the photo of Angels Flight slacks.