IKEA turns old uniforms into accessories

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In recent years, Ikea staff worldwide have received new uniforms. This left a substantial amount of old clothing. Now, the home furnishings retailer has found a new purpose for it. Through a recycling process, the old textiles have been converted into felt and fabrics, which have been used to create accessories. In this article, I’ll show you how these accessories look, explain the process, and tell you where you can buy them.

Collecting old uniforms

For this new project, Ikea collected around 300 tons of uniforms from its European stores between 2020 and 2022. Most of this consisted of old clothing, but there were also new items that hadn’t been worn yet.

The old uniforms can be seen in the photo below.

hese clothes were piled together and transported by trucks to a central location. There, the fabrics were shredded until only fibers remained, from which new fabrics were made. Because the fibers are shorter than those in new fabrics, they couldn’t be used for items like chairs, which undergo intensive use and friction and are therefore made from sturdy materials.


IKEA turns old uniforms into accessories

Ikea decided to use the recycled fabrics for accessories that endure less friction. The items in the VÄXELBRUK collection are simple: cushions, curtains, throws, and bags.

IKEA turns old uniforms into accessories
Photos: Shredding old Ikea uniforms
IKEA turns old uniforms into accessories
Left photo: Complete VÄXELBRUK collection | Right photo: VÄXELBRUK bag €12.99

In the bag, you can clearly see the yellow and blue colors of the uniforms, but in the other items, this is less noticeable. This was a deliberate choice by Ikea. They wanted to use different colors without having to dye the fabrics. Hence, they incorporated other industrial textile scraps. This combination softened the yellow and blue tones.

IKEA turns old uniforms into accessories
Photos: VÄXELBRUK cushions €6.99
IKEA turns old uniforms into accessories
Photos: VÄXELBRUK blanket €12.99
Complete VÄXELBRUK collection
Photo: Complete VÄXELBRUK collection

New uniforms adjusted

This is the first time Ikea has repurposed fabrics for other products. According to the press release about VÄXELBRUK, they applied this skill directly to their own uniforms. When the staff received the new uniforms, one of the shirts was found to be see-through. They took these shirts back, shredded them, and made a new, thicker fabric.

This doesn’t surprise me. When it was announced that new uniforms were being rolled out, Ikea mentioned that they had been designed by their own staff—the same people who design wardrobes and sofas. Well, that’s bound to cause problems. Workwear is different from fashion, many experts say. And it’s even more different from furniture. But Ikea does things their own way and manages to do so sustainably.

If you’re interested in the recycled accessories, you should act quickly. It’s a limited collection and is sold in a selected number of stores across Europe.

Best regards,


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