Does recycling plastic sometimes feel like a chore? Heisel’s Tyvek mini-dress makes plastic’s life cycle fun. With its short hemline and geometric print, the dress is a stretch from the fabric’s more common applications. Pioneered by DuPont, Tyvek is ordinarily used as housing insulation, vehicle covers, and medical packaging. Still, the material isn’t without its downsides. “Tyvek is an amazing material, but it’s made by DuPont, and [it's] not the most amazing of companies eco-wise,” Heisel tells us. “Tyvek is a recyclable plastic, but as far as I know it’s not available as a recycled material.”
Heisel accessorized a pair of Tyvek shorts with reflective belt made from tiny glass beads. “It’s the same thing that’s on high worker vests,” she says. “It’s certified by the Department of Transportation for nighttime safety wear. I love fashion that’s also functional and the reflective stuff is great [for] bike-riding and running outdoors at night.“
A truly versatile little black dress, Heisel’s Polartec number marries function, form and sustainability. Perfect for a stroll on the beach or the office, this classic, sleeveless black sheath is form fitting, moisture wicking, warm, and breathable. “I wanted to do a group of classic understated little black dresses, but in Polartec made from recycled plastic bottles and washable and durable enough to wear at the beach.” Heisel says. A roomy Tyvek tote, its reflective strap lined with recycled eco-felt, completes the look.
Wearers get a taste of Superman’s power with this sheer raincoat derived from Cuben Fiber (also known as CTF3), a flexible laminate that is stronger than steel by weight. CTF3 is made of Dyneema, a polyethylene fiber whose manufacturer claims floats on water, is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel, up to 40 percent stronger than aramid fibers, and is resistant to moisture, UV light, and chemicals. When not being worn as a raincoat, Dyneema is used to make commercial fishing nets, personal armor, sails, and cut-resistant gloves.
Heisel wants other designers to go further afield, as well. She encourages social innovation by making her own designs available online. Think of it as open-source garment design. “I think innovation comes individuals sharing ideas and DIYers make the world a better place,” Heisel says. “We open-source the code for the 3D printed cases and sell pieces of our tech materials for people who would rather make their own.”