Anián Upcycles Old Sweaters Into Their Modern Melton Shirts

By Lauren Edwards

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Anián is a clothing line featuring weather-proof products braced for unpredictable conditions. Founded by Paul Long, its first flagship store opened on Vancouver Island in 2013. 

 The Straight of Anián was a mythical passageway believed to connect Asia to Europe for trade. It launched a great exploration into the nooks and crannies of those regions, searching for the unknown. A sentiment shared by the brand, as it stepped into the fashion industry.

 The clothing line ranges from t-shirts, hats and toques to knits, duffel bags, and more. Their newest addition is the Modern Melton Shirt, inspired by the classic Navy pea coat famously worn by James Dean. The naval pea coat has been used by navies across the globe as a standard issued staple. The coat uses 32 ounces of wool split into two sets and tightly woven together, called Melton cloth.

 Long has owned a vintage naval pea coat for over 16 years, which has lasted through Vancouver Island’s heavy rain on surfing trips and hikes. He compared his friends’ short-lived synthetic wear to what he was wearing and looked into the Melton cloth, which Long calls the “perfect outdoor weather weave.” The material doesn’t unravel easily, making it durable and long-lasting.

As for the iconic pea coat, it gives versatility and a sense of formality, and Anián’s Modern Melton shirt follows suit. During the creative process, they opted for formal buttons to make the shirt dressier than an every day overshirt, ideal for impromptu meetings, walks, and hikes.

 Anián has exercised upcycling or rescuing textiles in the past couple of years, grabbing bundles of sweaters from “rag houses”—the bottom of the thrift store supply hierarchy. Since the Modern Melton shirts are free of dyes, the feedstock from the rag houses determines the colour palette for that time. If they want a particular colour or shade, the sweaters are gathered specifically to be blended to create different tones.

The recycling process requires wool carding (brushing out the wool fibres) and has taken Anián over two years to hone the craft. In that time, the contemporary clothing company has upcycled about 60 thousand pounds of wool sweaters into Modern Melton shirts.

 “Essentially, the dream would be to have a whole line that is fully recycled,” says Long. As for fast-fashion based companies, he wants to show recycling works, show the consumers’ interest, and see the larger brands pick it up and move into a reusable style.

All parts of manufacturing including measuring, cutting, knitting, and sewing, are done in Canada except for the recycling process, which is done in Italy. This is due to the last Canadian wool mill closing in 2013.

“Understanding that business and supply chain management can be positive. It can also be very detrimental. 

 As we grow, a building block for us is knowing and understanding who we support—whether it’s our sellers or the weavers themselves—along the process. The process itself is just as important as the finished product,” explains Long.

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