Oi Polloi

Introducing the Tretorn Bio Jacket

Published: Thu Jun 28 2018

Tretorn are a Swedish company from the picturesque zone of Helsingborg.

Not only were they amongst the first people to make rubber-soled tennis shoes, but they’ve also been making ultra-nifty waterproof jackets since the 1930s.

These days they’re still dedicated to the outerwear cause, making high-class raincoats from eco-friendly materials.

The Bio Jacket is a new one from Tretorn HQ available here on Tuesday the 3rd of July. Not only does it look pretty sharp, and not only is it 100% waterproof, but it’s fully degradable too.

We talked with Tretorn’s Fredrik Ekström to find out more…

For those unaware, what’s the backstory of Tretorn?

Tretorn started back in 1891 in Helsingborg Skåne, a farming area in southern Sweden.

The first products were rubber boots for the farming and the military industry, but in 1900 we started making sports sneakers. We were probably the second brand in the world creating sneakers with a rubber sole.  

In 1902 we started making tennis balls, and then in 1930 we started the production of protective rain wear. 

Where does the name come from? 

It’s the three towers from Helsingborg city fortress. ‘Tre torn’ mean ‘three towers’ in Swedish.  

On the face of it, tennis doesn’t have much in common with raincoats. How come you lot make so many different things?

When Tretorn started out, we made rubber boots, but since we knew how to make rubber soles, and the founder was interested in sport, making tennis shoes made perfect sense. The tennis balls were just another rubber innovation. 

So now we’re a sports, sneaker and outdoor manufacturer, all with a rubber-based core. 

Fair enough. How has making raincoats changed since when Tretorn first started?

The fundamentals haven’t actually changed that much, but over the years the industry has evolved and started to add fluorocarbons, phthalates and PVC into the mix to make jackets lighter and more flexible. 

At Tretorn we have stood strong with our techniques and haven’t changed into using any of these things. However what we are changing is the main compounds of the jackets — so for example we can now make a jacket out of recycled polyester to take a small step towards a better circle. 

What’s going on with the Bio Jacket then? What makes it ‘bio’? 

With the Bio Jacket we have changed the oil-based polyester to a plant based fabric made out of sugar beet and coated it with a bio PU. This means that not only is it made from renewable resources, but it’s degradable after use. 

How do you make a jacket out of sugar beet?

First you’ve got to create lactic acid, the building block. That’s then transformed into lactide using a milling process and hydrolysis, and then it’s ‘polymerized’. After that, it can be sued to make yarn, coffee capsules, yogurt pots and baby wipes. 

Pretty clever. How long does the bio-jacket take to degrade? It’s not just going to fall to bits after a few years is it?  

No, it won’t degrade when you’re wearing it. It needs a controlled compost environment with fungus and moist. With normal use and storage it will last for ever.   

What else is going on with the Bio-Jacket? What other features has it got? 

It has one of the world’s first biodegradable zippers, and then the printed logo is made from soy beans to avoid using chemical additives. And then it’s fully waterproof and 100% windproof. 

Maybe a bit of a vague question… but what makes a good rain jacket? 

Form, fit and function – with high quality seams and construction. 

You lot do a lot of work to minimalize your impact on the environment. Why is this important to you? What do you lot do differently?

It is a part of our DNA. We come from a long history of being inventive and strong in CSR.  

I might be being a bit thick here, but what is CSR? What does that mean? 

No worries, it means Corporate Social Responsibility. 

Oh right, that makes sense. Going on from that a bit, What could the normal person do to help with the environment? 

Firstly, consume less — buy clothes that last a long time instead of fast fashion. It’s also good to buy jackets that don’t rely on being washed so often. And then you should recycle – get clothes that are made from other industry’s waste. And finally, repair and reuse your old clothes. 

Some good tips there. What else have you lot got in the pipeline?

We’re pretty busy at the moment. We’ve been working on a project that involves collecting old fishing nets and regenerating the nylon to make jackets. It’s a really nice collection of padded rain jackets for fall and winter.  

This jacket was actually highlighted on the UN World Ocean conference in New York last year as a ‘best practice’ for the industry to be inspired by. 

Sounds good. Any wise words you'd like to end this chat with?

Every brand has a responsibility to act as a human being. And humans can’t live on this planet if we’re not doing our best to help what can’t help itself. 

At Tretorn, we have the mind-set that we will never be finished. We will never reach the end goal because there will always be more new stuff to do, so we will keep on going. 

The Tretorn Oi Polloi Bio Jacket is available from 10:00 on Tuesday the 3rd of July (BST). See them here.