Over the past year or so we have seen a number of major outdoor brands begin using recycled items to create the materials used to produce their products. For instance, each of Columbia’s OutDry Extreme Eco Jackets is made from fabrics that were developed from recycled water bottles. Similarly, Adidas capitalized on this trend as well by making performance athletic wear and running shoes from plastics that were retrieved from the ocean. Now, Italian company Exkite is joining the ranks of outdoor apparel makers who are using recycled materials as well by making jackets from used kiteboarding sails.
The concept of using kiteboarding sails to make clothing first came to Exkite founder, and former pro kiteboarder, Renzo Mancini while he was testing new gear on the island of Sardinia. Mancini knew he had a number of old kites just sitting around back home, but he wasn’t sure of the best way to recycle them or find a new use for them. It was then that he came up with the idea of using the materials to create new clothing. Shortly thereafter, he shared his vision with Norwegian designer Eirinn Skrede, who is now Mancini’s wife. She immediately had some ideas on how the fabrics used in the kites could be repurposed and from there the company was born.
As it turns out, the bright and colorful kite fabrics are well suited for apparel. The materials are durable, come in a variety of different weights, and bring a unique look to every garment Exkite produces. In fact, since the clothing is made from recycled kites, no two items are exactly alike. That is not something you can say about too many other apparel brands.
Exkite’s first line of apparel was made entirely of recycled kites that had been flown at some point during their lifespan. Some of the kites were used by Mancini in competitions, others were prototypes that were tested and rejected in favor of newer models, while some were simply used for recreational purposes on the Mediterranean Sea. This not only gives these items a unique look but a unique story too.
Although the company has produced a large number of products over the past couple of years, Mancini still has not gone through all of the kites he has sitting around his home. In part, that is because Exkite began receiving used kites that were donated to the company for use in creating its products. Those kites have come from all over the world as others heave learned about the company’s philosophy and approach to making its gear.
Exkite’s products might be unique and use recycled materials, but they certainly don’t come cheap. A typical jacket costs about $470 at current exchange rates, while a pair of shorts will set you back $200. The most affordable products in the company’s catalog at the moment are iPad and MacBook sleeves, which run $40 and $50, respectively. Each product is handmade in Italy and that craftsmanship shows through in the quality of the garments. Plus, the chance of ever running into someone else who has the exact same Exkite jacket are virtually zero.
This past summer, Exkite opened its first retail outlet on the island of Sardinia. The store has a distinct art gallery feel to it, which seems apropos considering the unique nature of the items that are sold there. The fact that the company’s first store launched on the island where Mancini first came up with the idea of using recycled kites to make clothing also seems quite fitting, bringing the entire concept full circle.
Check out all of Exkite’s gear — and learn more about its story — on the company’s official website.