Year of Expansion and Opportunity

2021 has been a year of expansion and opportunity at Natural Fiber Welding. 

We are on a mission to invent and manufacture shockingly sustainable materials from plants. Throughout the year, together with our partners and thanks to our dedicated employees, we’ve made immense strides in making our dream of a world that doesn’t rely on plastic, where abundant natural materials enable people and the planet to thrive together, a reality.

As 2021 winds down, let’s look back at five of our proudest and most exciting moments from the year:

Scaling production and more than doubling manufacturing space

This year NFW added 110,000 square feet of manufacturing space for MIRUM®, a categorically new, plant-based material perfect for footwear, fashion, automotive, and accessories. This new facility, which is housed on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Peoria, more than doubled NFW’s manufacturing footprint. This expansion provides the necessary space to create substantially more MIRUM for our partners.

“This manufacturing facility provides NFW with exceptional capabilities and positions Peoria to become a national textile technology hub,” said Tom Waggoner, Chief Operating Officer for NFW. “The SW Jefferson site provides exceptional value for NFW while also supporting the effort to bring employment opportunities to the most challenged areas of our community,” he said.

In 2022 and beyond, this space will allow even more brands to create products made from plastic-free, circular materials.

As we scale up, we’re looking for more people to  join the team that’s revolutionizing the materials economy. Check out our careers page for our current openings.

Current Openings

Securing investments and partnerships from brand leaders across multiple industries

NFW is honored to be partnering with a number of strategic investors to scale our technologies and bring more products to the market. This year, NFW announced investments and partnerships with many brands, including industry leaders Allbirds, BMW, and Patagonia.

“Natural Fiber Welding has developed an innovative process of converting plants into all-natural, 100% recyclable material that mimic all the properties of traditional leather, yarns and foams. Having a scalable, cost-competitive alternative to leather with premium qualities is key to further advancing the decarbonization of the automotive industry,” said Kasper Sage, managing partner at BMW i Ventures.

BMW i Ventures said they looked for a partner making leather-like materials that had four main characteristics:

  1. Perform comparably to leather (durability, resistance to abrasion, color-fastness, etc.). 
  2. Cost-competitive to existing leathers (i.e. animal or synthetic leathers).
  3. Scalable to produce meaningful volumes for a number of customer verticals, particularly automotive.
  4. Environmentally friendly with minimal carbon footprint.

Of the startups they looked at, NFW was the only company they’d found that checked all the boxes.

Entering the marketplace with MIRUM® and CLARUS®

The 2020 Summer Olympics was an exciting moment for Natural Fiber Welding. As part of our ongoing partnership with Ralph Lauren Corporation, we could not be more proud of the role MIRUM® played in their efforts to drive for innovation in sustainability at the games. Ralph Lauren, a long time NFW partner, included MIRUM patches on the Team USA members’ opening and closing ceremony parade uniforms. 

Since July, MIRUM and CLARUS products have also launched with a number of other brands, including Bellroy, Woolly Made, MODHER, Chaco, and Pangaia. And that’s just the beginning. As we scale production and expand our manufacturing, be on the lookout for an increasing number of MIRUM products in the market in the months ahead. 

If you’re still wrapping up your holiday shopping, don’t miss our gift guide with all the exciting new products. 

Holiday Gift Guide

Receiving recognition as a leading technology and innovation company

NFW’s approach to sustainability is unique and unmatched. Our innovative, patented technologies are giving industries and innovators categorically new material platforms to create responsibly. 

Throughout the year, we were recognized for our leadership in the materials innovation space. NFW was named as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, selected as a finalist by Conservation X Labs in its Microfiber Innovation Challenge, and named a top 10 startup to watch by Chemical & Engineering News. NFW’s Founder and CEO Luke Haverhals was also named a “Researcher to Know” by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.

We’re honored by the recognition and look forward to continuing to deliver on our promise of creating shocking sustainable materials in the year ahead. 

Highlighting sustainable materials on a global stage

A few of our team members attended the Première Vision show in Paris to showcase luxe fashion items and prototypes created from NFW materials. 

Since 1973, Première Vision has brought together creative fashion industry professionals to explore new trends, materials, and connections. Today, it puts on 12 events per year, which feature more than 5,000 major industry players. Its main event is Première Vision Paris, which brings together thousands of fashion professionals from all over the globe.

The NFW display included a MIRUM handbag from MODHER, Wooly Made MIRUM wallets, and Nicole Zisman’s MIRUM-made capsule suit, which was flown directly from the London Fashion Week.

See photos from the event on our blog:

Event Photos

Looking ahead

2021 was a momentous year for NFW; it laid the groundwork for more exciting projects in the future, and even more opportunities to support true sustainability in a variety of industries.

We are honored to be partnering with so many amazing companies who share our vision for a better world. We can’t wait to share what we’ve got planned for 2022.

December 17 2021