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Is Seaweed the Sustainable Performance Fabric of the Future?

Satisfy’s latest line employs ocean-bred technology that is simultaneously time-tested and revolutionary.

man running in desert

With the drop of Satisfy’s American Desert line, the Parisian running brand introduces a sustainable bio-based fabric for post-run recovery that’s plucked from the ocean. The new batch of Cosmetic Tees — classic tees, muscle tees, and long-sleeved shirts adorned with photography by Jungjin Lee — feature seaweed-derived SeaCell, a fiber with health and environmental advantages that, for some, might be worth the $200-plus price tag.

Seaweed is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and taking advantage of its beneficial properties isn’t anything new. For thousands of years, seaweed has been harvested for food, fuel, fertilizer, skincare, medicine and recently, even skis. The Ancient Romans used it to dress wounds (it’s still being used in medical innovations today), while 17th Century Japanese textile makers used seaweed to make clothing stronger. Now, modern technologies have further adapted the marine plant’s usability, incorporating it into fabric production to create garments that lock the health benefits into wearable fabrics.

“The idea of incorporating SeaCell into our Cosmetic Tees was to create a post-run collection that accelerated the recovery process,” explains Satisfy founder Brice Partouche. “[These garments] have an anti-oxidative capacity which eliminates free radicals while caring for the wearer’s skin.”

man walking in desert
Left: Getty Images/Douglas King; Right: Satisfy

After a run, natural moisture levels enable an active exchange of those restorative substances between the shirt and skin, which can repair cellular damage, reduce inflammation and soothe itchiness. While wearing a seaweed-woven shirt might not offer T-1000-like regeneration, any improvement in oxidative stress is more than any other T-shirt can do.

The environmental impact of this seaweed-based fabric is also worth shouting out. SeaCell is 100 percent biodegradable and produced solely from sustainable raw materials—seaweed and wood. “The seaweed is first washed, dried, carefully ground and then incorporated into an organic cotton fiber,” explains Partouche. In case you’re thinking that you’d be wearing a seaweed shirt held together with a bit of cotton, it’s really the other way around; the cotton-to-seaweed ratio is 80-to-20.)

It’s also sustainably harvested, removing only the part that can regenerate and leaving it entirely untreated, retaining all its organic value. Production is carbon neutral and takes place in a closed loop with no chemicals released as waste. The result: a wearable fiber that isn’t wreaking havoc on the planet.

man wearing cactus shirt

From an environmental standpoint, SeaCell and technologies like it (there are a few players in the wearable seaweed game) can be pretty revolutionary. Many of today’s fabrics are petroleum-derived, which presents a host of thorny problems. Woven from plastic-based acrylic, nylon, spandex and polyester, these clothes often end up in landfills — textiles make up a good chunk of the stuff we throw away. In addition to using a shit-ton of chemicals, water and energy, there’s the heavy cost of greenhouse gas emissions and the microplastic pollution that ends up in the air, land and oceans.

Some companies, Satisfy included, are mitigating damage by switching to recycled fabrics (the brand’s ReNylon material is produced from upcycled nylon in a fully chemical-free recycling process). Garment makers should be celebrated for shifting towards more sustainable production. Getting plastic bottles and fishing nets out of waterways to be repurposed for apparel is certainly cause for recognition.

But while these materials are recyclable, they still aren’t biodegradable or compostable. Incorporating game-changing technologies like SeaCell takes “eco-friendly” to the next level. In other words, when you add the benefits together, a seaweed T-shirt might be the best thing you can wear — for your health and for the planet’s.

Price: $223+


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