What do sheep and oysters have in common? It might not seem like much, but both yield cozy fabrics perfect for cool temperatures. While wool is an autumn staple for many, we’re excited to introduce a revolutionary sustainable material called Seawool. Made from recycled polyester and crushed oyster shells, it’s one of the most innovative fabrics in our new Fall 2023 Collection.
“I learned about Seawool technology a few years ago, and I immediately loved the concept because it utilized our current method of converting plastic bottles into yarn and innovated the process even further by incorporating calcium carbonate from oyster shells,” explains Jake Danehy, Fair Harbor’s co-founder. Jake and the design team were so impressed by the softness, environmental impact, and unrivaled performance of Seawool that they added it into three new styles for fall: our Seawool Neptune Sweater, the Seawool Larchmont Quarter-Zip, and Seawool Neptune Beanie.
This sustainable fabric feels natural to the touch, but creating it is a technical process. First, we crush discarded oyster shells into powder and then add the pulverized particles to the polyester fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The yarn’s surface is embedded with tiny scales from the nanosized oyster shell powder, offering a wool-like texture more nuanced than regular synthetic polyester. “The natural benefits of oyster shells combined with the recycled polyester creates an incredibly soft material that feels just like merino wool but has the attributes of performance fabric,” explains Jake.
But when it comes to functionality, mollusks seem to have an edge over mammals. Seawool is better than wool at moisture management and thermoregulation, which means it keeps your body warm without overheating and lets hot air escape as your temperature rises. The surface of the oyster shell is porous after the calcination treatment, which helps absorb odor caused by sweat, so it’s both odor-resistant and antimicrobial. Finally, Seawool’s itch-free, wrinkle-free, and anti-static properties make it an ideal choice for cold-weather layers like the ones in our Fall 2023 Collection.
The Seawool Neptune Sweater
There’s no better way to celebrate sweater weather than with chunky knits, and our new Seawool Neptune Sweater, made from a lofty Seawool and cotton blend, will be your new go-to. “This is our interpretation of a classic fisherman’s sweater in a shaker-stitch rib knit, but updated with this cutting-edge fiber,” Walter explains, noting how the small-gauge stitch is rendered in a hefty yarn.
The Seawool Larchmont Quarter-Zip
Seawool’s texture can vary depending on how we spin the yarn or blend the fibers. For instance, in our Seawool Larchmont Quarter-Zip, the midweight brushed knit is made from fine yarns of oyster shells and 7 recycled plastic bottles, so it feels like a cross between a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. “It’s such a classic men’s sportswear style and incredibly versatile,” says Walter Bassano, design director at Fair Harbor. “You can wear it to the office, on weekends, or golfing. It’s really such a universal silhouette.”
The Seawool Neptune Beanie
Say goodbye to irritated skin and hat head this fall. The minimalist shaker stitch ribbed knit design of our new Neptune Beanie looks traditional, but the advanced anti-static properties mean your hairstyle stays put when you remove your hat. “Although the name has wool in it, Seawool is better than wool in many ways,” says Walter, noting it has none of the scratchiness or allergens associated with wool.
Of course, we chose Seawool because it shines not only with softness and performance features but also because of its incredible benefit to the environment. With more than 4 million tons of oyster shells discarded by the restaurant and food industries every year, our Seawool styles repurpose this valuable biomaterial and recycled plastic bottles destined for landfills or waterways. “We always try to use the most sustainable option here,” explains George Vasilopoulos, production director at Fair Harbor. “Seawool is something extra special because it promotes a circular economy and reduces waste.”
This builds on the incredible ecological value of live oysters that can filter up to 50 gallons of water each day, removing nitrogen and pollutants in the process. They are a natural gift that keeps on giving. “I love the idea of repurposing discarded oyster shells that already make such a sustainable contribution to our waterways,” adds Jake.
And there will likely be more Seawool in Fair Harbor’s future. Our Fall 2023 Collection is just the beginning for this feel-good fabric you can feel good about wearing all season long.