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11611 San Vicente Blvd
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Los Angeles CA, 90049

11611 San Vicente Blvd
Suite 1020
Los Angeles CA, 90049

Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

How Outerknown Extended their Sustainability Efforts with Oceanworks Guaranteed Ocean Plastic Buttons

How Outerknown Extended their Sustainability Efforts with Oceanworks Guaranteed Ocean Plastic Buttons

Category: Textiles
Industry: Apparel
Polymer: HDPE
Source: North America
Collected: 2017

Outerknown's Inspiration

11 time World Surf League Champion, Kelly Slater, and acclaimed designer John Moore founded Outerknown with the belief that they have a responsibility to make clothing that respects the world around us.

For over two decades, Kelly and John were on the frontlines of fashion, seeing firsthand the massive impact the industry had on the environment. There came the point where they realized the clothes they were designing and wearing were part of the problem. They wanted to be part of the solution. In 2015, they founded Outerknown to change the game and create clothing that reflects their style and values.

Outerknown shorts with ocean plastic buttons from OceanworksSourcing the bulk of their textiles from accredited sources, Outerknown was frustrated with the lack of innovation with the trims industry - buttons, zippers, pulls, and other components. Oceanworks was working with a manufacturer that specializes in custom tooling and injection molding trims. After connecting with Outerknown, we quickly mobilized to deliver the service and materials necessary to create the world's first button made from recycled ocean plastics.


"Our journey as a company began with Outerknown taking a chance with us to test using ocean plastic recycled materials. We have been forever grateful for their leadership to take risks and be an inspirational voice in the world of sustainable fashion." -Rob Ianelli, CEO, Oceanworks


Detail view of ocean plastic buttons from Oceanworks

Look closely; the Oceanworks button includes the material, year, and the Oceanworks Guarantee mark printed on the button. It’s another tiny detail that speaks volumes and reinforces our commitment to the oceans. 

The Process

Oceanworks buttons on khaki shorts from Outerknown

Outerknown designers were used to picking trims from a book and giant catalogs. Our process offered a different approach, providing a way to create a new custom button from scratch with recycled materials. Partnering with an outside design agency, we created a design that worked for the HDPE (high-density-polyethylene) ocean plastic and also matched the design finish aesthetics that remained important to the Outerknown team.
We created custom tools for the iteration process, and with the quick turnaround by the manufacturer, we produced buttons to show Outerknown at the Outdoor Retailer Show in 2017.

The plastic was collected from places like Haiti and Mexico, by locals who are paid a living wage for their efforts, thereby not only preventing plastic waste from entering the ocean but also combating extreme poverty at the same time. For people living in Haiti, a country still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake, the chance to earn money by clearing out the plastic plaguing their neighborhoods and water supply is a double win. 


"Partnering with Oceanworks was a great way to drive innovative solutions for Outerknown and further integrate sustainability into the brand." -Megan Stoneburner Azim, Director of Sustainability and Sourcing, Outerknown



The entire team raced to meet the deadline for the launch of the S.E.A. Legs (S.E.A stands for Social and Environmental Accountability) that featured the ocean plastic button. By leveraging third party design services, our sourcing expertise matched with an ambitious manufacturer from our network, we were able to deliver a successful launch for Outerknown.


The Results

What started as a project for the S.E.A. Leg pants quickly evolved into several Outerknown garments featuring Oceanworks Guaranteed ocean plastics. Each button offers a sustainable solution for Outerknown, and it's customers who want to make sustainable buying decisions. We look forward to our future collaborations with Outerknown, one tiny detail at a time.