What if instead of throwing the hair in the trash once cut, we used it to create something? Starting from this simple idea, Camille Routelous, a young designer from the Toulouse region, has succeeded in creating a yarn made of wool and hair, then knitted to make
For several years, this former student of the Higher Institute of Arts and Design has been working on this material, whether it is its identity aspect or its use. Gradually, his knowledge on the subject grew, in particular on its technical characteristics, whether it is its biodegradable, insulating or even breathable aspect. Certainly, it is already recovered to make wigs or as a natural fertilizer. But this use is marginal compared to the 3,000 to 4,000 tons that are collected each year on the floor of hairdressing salons.
Camille, she wanted to find an alternative solution to the fashion industry, overconsumption and “ultra-polluting”. “At the end of my studies, I wanted to develop a textile, to evaluate the look on this natural material, considered as waste, often incinerated. It also allowed me to reconnect with my roots,” explains the young woman who has an upholsterer-decorator uncle.
Promoting local know-how
In 2020, it focused on the design of an innovative yarn, by consulting an engineer but also by approaching the Regional Association for Eco-construction of the South-West. Initially, she tried to make a 100% hair yarn. But for it to be more resistant, it is associated with wool, another keratin material. And by any because the latter comes from the Dreuilhe spinning mill in Ariège. The weaving and knitting workshops assigned to her to design her first clothes are in the Tarn, the department from which she originates.
And it is with nearly 70 hairdressing salons in these departments and Haute-Garonne that she has established privileges to regularly collect hair, which she then sorts and cleans. Everything happens within a radius of 80 kilometers around Toulouse. “One of the challenges was also for me to promote local know-how, to support and be supported by the ecosystem that exists around textiles”, indicates the young woman who created the Versus structure to carry her project.
After a crowdfunding operation last fall, it delivered its first hats and ponchos at the end of the year. Integrated into the social innovation incubator Alter’Incu Pyrenees, she continues to work on avenues for development around hair recycling, while maintaining the idea of remaining creative. “It may be in the clothing, perhaps in the habitat. The objective is to continue to raise awareness and to have the look on the hair assessed, which we also stop throwing away,” pleads Camille Routélous.