Why is this man sitting on the floor of a warehouse full of piles of coloured clothing?

He’s the most important part of a process of wool recycling that takes place in Prato, just a few kilometers from Florence. He’s cutting the zippers and trim off old clothes so that they are pure wool, with no ‘extras’ added. He’s helping make a kind of fabric known as Cardato, which is a CO2 neutral regenerated wool that turns the world’s cast-offs into brand new, beautifully coloured raw wool, yarn, and fabrics. From Cadato you can make just about anything, from couches to winter coats to felted poufs. And the whole process is absolutely stunning to see, as it’s super colourful – both these piles of clothes and the vats of dye they meet later in the process.

Right now, the Prato chamber of commerce is promoting a contest for young fashion designers, product designers and videomakers worldwide (aged 18-35) who may be looking into degrees for fashion. The challenge is to come up with new uses for Cardato. Based on a proposed design for a product, outfit, or communications video, 3 finalists in each category will be flown to Tuscany to spend 5 days in Prato with important producers of fashion and design, to get to know the Cardato process and its output. One person in each category will then win 2500 euros.

The contest is primarily aimed at those starting their career in any of the three fields, for it provides a really good learning opportunity as well as a moment for these young people to make professional contacts and perhaps have their design actually enter production. For videomakers, the cool thing is that you only have to propose an idea of how you might communicate this process, and send a portfolio. Then you get to come and film this amazing content. Do you find industrial processes as cool as I do?

If you feel inspired by this wool, sign up at www.cardato.it/contest – chances of winning are good, and the prize is super! Deadline is October 31 2012.

All photos credit: Marco Badiani

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