CiLAB is a circular textile collective from Mechelen that develops processes and solutions to upcycle clothing and creates awareness for the circular transition in the textile sector.

CiLAB is a textile collective of Shawkat, Jan and Sibille that creates circular textiles while sharing their knowledge and creating awareness for the circular transition in their sector. It's all about circular thinking. With CiLAB, they give an answer to the problems that the whole world of fashion brings with it, making people more aware of what they have hanging in their wardrobes. For the elaboration of the project they found a place in the Potterij in Mechelen.

Fast fashion runs the fashion world today. Trends change every week and sometimes there are even daily new collections in (online) shops at the lowest prices. This is only possible because of the poor working conditions in producing countries, the enormous consumption of water, far transport and other climate-related problems. Shawkat, Jan and Sibille want to create awareness with CiLAB: we should buy less textile, make better textile, make sure everything is 100% reused and simply think logically.

The core team of CiLAB consists of three experienced professionals. Shawkat brings all his knowledge from Syria, Jan researches the switch from linear to circular economy and Sibille already makes a nightwear collection out of worn shirts with her brand Joseffa. At the start of 2021, the studio of Amsterdam-based designer Leon Blok was taken over, and Sibille joined to share her knowledge and to help figure out how to scale up her upcycling. Shawkat joined three months later, creating a very complementary team. A little later, the Ursulinen Fashion School became its new neighbour and suddenly Mechelen had its own circular fashion valley. Collaboration with like-minded people, that's what it's all about.

Young people of today are a great inspiration for CiLAB: they think more critically about the origin of their clothing and have made second-hand clothing trendy again. Moreover, CiLAB actively works together with those young people by supporting them. Those young people are not only from the neighbourhood, but also from schools in cities like Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. There are even collaborations with the furniture design students of VOMO.

CiLAB has already started several projects with a number of Belgian companies. They worked out an on-site repair service with Decathlon, they support Woody, HNST, and numerous young, creative designers and startups, they designed the upcycled jumpers for JBC in parallel with the making of their Art-by-Cash collection, and they are currently producing the upcycled collection for Essentiel and Studio Circulaire. More collaborations are discussed on the website each year.

CiLAB's location is also circular: the Potterij in Mechelen is a former laundry. The heavily polluted site is now in full evolution towards a hub for the circular economy. Moreover, the current studio once housed the offices of OVAM. Is this a coincidence?

Another inspiring case: United Repair Centre 


Partners de Potterij, Decathlon, Woody, HNST, Essentiel, Studio Circulaire