Sydney startup Kusaga Athletic is creating eco-friendly activewear

With the rise of fast fashion in Australia has come a steadily growing resistance, with more consumers putting more thought behind the clothes and other assorted products they buy and where they have come from.

But no matter how well-meaning someone may be with their own purchases, there are other times when all that’s available is something cheap and mass-produced – like the t-shirts often given out at events.

Looking to change that by providing event organisers with ‘the greenest t-shirt on the planet’ is Kusaga Athletic. The business was founded by Matt Ashcroft and Graham Ross, born out of the frustration with the poor quality of shirts given out to hundreds of thousands of participants at global races and events each year.

“My wardrobe was being overtaken by piles of uncomfortable and unwearable shirts, so I decided to investigate why these shirts were so dreadful, and look for a better alternative,” Ross explained.

Through his investigation, Ross discovered that there is more to the runners’ tees than the fact that they’re uncomfortable – the process of their production is harmful to the environment. According to the WWF, it can take 2,700 litres to produce the cotton needed to make just one t-shirt.

“The plastics-based fabric used for the tees is produced with nasty petrochemical materials and a dirty manufacturing process, and the end result is poor quality garments destined to become landfill for hundreds of years.”

So Ross and Ashcroft decided to look into creating an alternative, with the idea in mind that athletes are the perfect target market.

“Athletes are generally early adopters to changes in tech and for the most part, are key influencers. They carry plenty of sway with their opinions, their one-on-one interactions and, of course, their wallets. As athletes, we have a chance to lead by example to protect the environment we run in, because the option is pretty terrifying. What if we inflict so much damage to the environment that one day there is nowhere to run?”

The cofounders began working to find the natural fibres that would meet their criteria around being both environmentally-friendly and strong in terms of performance.

“We undertook many months of development to find the right blend that accessed the fibres’ natural properties such as zero odour retention and hypoallergenic qualities. Our aim was to create a durable material with a great handfeel and good stretch,” Ross explained.

The fabrics created by Kusaga have helped the company achieve a number of certifications and standards: Kusaga is a certified B Corporation, has joined the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications, and is part of the USDA Biopreferred program.

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