Brandstore India owner Kapil Bhatia became aware of recycled synthetic fabrics only in 2019, during a uniform and corporate wear expo in Mumbai. The company has been in the textile business for over two decades. His research into the subject made him realise the potential and benefits of recycled synthetic fabrics, and in early 2020, he launched his direct-to-consumer (D2C) recycled fabric brand UNIREC under the parent entity Brandstore India to manufacture blazers, trousers, sleeveless jackets, and T-shirts from recycled PET bottles. The company focuses on stitching the apparel and the recycled fabric is sourced from third-party manufacturers.
Every garment made by UNIREC helps recycle 8-10 PET bottles of one litre, said Bhatia as he explained the size of the problem. “In India, around 1 lakh PET bottles are used every minute, of which up to 90% bottles are recycled while around 10,000 bottles end up at landfill sites and water bodies. A pile of these waste bottles would take less than 21 minutes to grow taller than Statue of Unity which is 182 meters high,” said Bhatia.
Apart from retail, UNIREC has started supplying recycled fabric uniforms to corporates. It is currently working with IDBI Bank for a section of its employees while orders from a pharma company and a sports body are in pipeline. Bhatia has also pitched the fabric to its existing over 150 customers – Indian Navy, PVR, McDonald’s, and others — in its traditional fabric business.
While UNIREC was launched right before Covid struck in early 2020, it wasn’t operational until late last year. The company currently makes 2,000 recycled garments every month that are retailed via its online portal. UNIREC would now expand through the e-commerce channel. On the corporate side, it aims to add over 150 brands to its portfolio. “This year we are targeting to sell at least 1 lakh garments. As of now, the revenue is less than a crore but we would easily be ramping up to around Rs 4 crore by end of 2022,” said Bhatia.