At a forum held in Jeongseon last month, Kang Tae-sun, founder and CEO of leisure clothing brand BYN Black Yak Korea, showed off the company’s new black shirts, which have been made in Gangwon Province.
“We made this T-shirt from recycled plastic bottles carefully collected in Gangwon to help the province reduce its environmental impact and encourage customers to become more comfortable using products made from harmless recycled materials, such as these,” Kang said. “I’m excited to see customers’ reactions when these T-shirts hit stores across the country in September.”
Despite the increasing number of consumers embracing mindful purchasing, Kang acknowledged that the market’s reaction might not be as enthusiastic as he anticipated, given that these consumers still only account for a small proportion of the clothing market, and lack incentives in the form of green government subsidies.
Currently, although the T-shirt costs 20 percent more to produce than a regular one, due to the labor costs of collecting and processing materials, Kang sees it as his corporate responsibility to bear that cost, until the company’s cost-lowering technologies are able to meet more developed customer demand for recycled clothing.
“Although this research and development costs a lot of money and time, a business’s duty to the environment is not optional but necessary,” he noted. “Unlike when environmental issues were seen as threats to businesses in the past, eco-friendly initiatives now present corporate opportunities.”
As the co-chair of Jeongseon Forum 2020, he urges governments to more proactively engage in the promotion of recycled materials as a way of allowing consumption to remain constant, while also ensuring a less detrimental environmental impact.
Kang, a mountain lover, founded his company in 1973 and had been focused on creating a sound culture for mountain lovers. As more and more South Koreans have developed an interest in outdoor leisure, particularly mountain climbing, the company has seen rapid growth in revenue. With the recycled T-shirts, which is only a part of an upcoming collection of similarly recycled clothing, Kang wants to focus on building an environmentally responsible company.
‘Ultimately, I would like to build a brand that is globally renowned for being environmentally friendly, which people can genuinely love and enjoy,” Kang noted.
By Park Ga-young (email@example.com