Shirts made from upcycled luxury hotel linen
Although the hotel industry has improved greatly in this regard, single-use toothbrushes, plastic-wrapped soap and daily laundry services are still common in the industry. Beds that have been made to perfection and freshly laundered bed linen are unique hallmarks of the hotel industry with no space for imperfections, such as small holes or stains. And should the slightest signs of wear and tear appear, the linen will be changed and discarded immediately. As a result, about 10 million kilograms of European luxury hotel linen are disposed of yearly. The Berlin-based brand Archivist Studio took advantage of the unnecessary waste of this high-quality material: Luxury hotel bed linen is upcycled into staple shirts – sustainably sourced, 100 % polyester free and with a story to tell.
When founders Eugenie Haitsma and Johannes Offerhaus witnessed that tons of hotel sheets, once they were discarded, are regularly thrown away, it did not take long for Eugenie Haitsma to call a friend at the hotel in London’s Mayfair, who was willing to give them 200 kilograms of the finest Egyptian cotton for their designs. Since the linen was still in a perfect state to be upcycled to quality clothing, a couple of years later, in 2021, Archivist Studio was founded. What began with 200 kilograms of Egyptian cotton and a basic shirt, has evolved in more designs and many more hotels joining Archivist Studio’s circular waste management. The co-founders, who are based in Berlin and Amsterdam, travel across Europe to find new partnerships with hotels, convincing them to manage their waste in donating their disposed linen and giving the discarded materials a second life as sustainably sourced clothing. Yet, many hotels discard their sheets, which are then not recycled or downcycled. Archivist Studio preserves these high-quality textiles and creates a longer lasting product from it. With more and more consumers avoiding unnecessary purchases and rediscovering items from their wardrobe, Archivist Studio follows an upcycling trend that has resonated highly in both the fashion and hospitality industries. Their goal is to make a timeless product that is going to outlast the sheet it originally evolved from – even though it is an upcycled product already. Which is why the brand chose a basic shirt as their signature product: a classic item that is versatile and timeless in its design.
With a new system rooted in dual concepts of circular waste management and classic design, the brand is revolutionizing the fashion industry. Smaller batches, cooperations with boutique hotels, smaller groups and private owners embody the brand’s mission to change the mindset in the industry. The brand strives to inspire their customers to value clothes as if they were archival pieces, to buy consciously and to rather repair than replace. For hotels, Archivist Studio offers an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and waste reduction in the hospitality sector.
The design element comes from co-founder Johannes Offerhaus, a designer known for creating sculptural couture clothing. Additionally, the brand collaborates with artists that specialize in certain processes of painting or embroidery. Small defects in the fabrics, such as holes, scratches, or discoloration, are being embraced and embellished, averting waste from off-cuts as much as possible and making each item unique. They see these blemishes as beautiful imperfections and the reason they got the sheets in the first place. They want to connect Archivist’s story with the story of the sheets and the hotels they work with.
Yet, there are many more steps in making a shirt this way: The linen has to be thoroughly cleaned, ironed and cut in order to process it. The production process is solely based in Europe: from the hotels that collect their textiles to the family-run atelier near Bucharest, Romania. To limit shipping emissions, stimulate local economies and allow intensive supervision of the garment’s quality and working conditions, the founders want to move the production even closer to their studio in Berlin. The fabric, mostly Egyptian cotton, has a very fine weave and because it has already been washed so many times, the garments are very soft and comfortable. Besides using high-end waste materials, the brand seeks to have an all-round sustainable supply chain. Stitching yarns are made of cotton, the buttons are made of pearl and all shirts are packed and shipped in paper.
With more hotels joining, Archivist Studio already has enough fabric to last for the next couple of years; and more styles are being developed. And since the core of the brand is to recycle and upcycle, they are also open to create beauty from other waste products within the industry.
by Marie Klimczak