January 23, 2022

Interview with Maxime Labat, B2B manager of La Virgule, a company of recycled backpacks and bicycle bags in Lille

Maxime Labat explains why and how he sublimates sports equipment originally intended to be discarded.

Maxime Labat, B2B manager of La Virgule © ET

Where did you get the idea to create La Virgule?

In my past, I was in the French windsurfing team, in international competition, I traveled a lot and inevitably, I was able to observe the plastic pollution in the oceans. I finished the competition with plastic bags in my fins etc. and so I was very annoyed by this situation.

At the end of the competition, I had hit my sail so hard that I threw it and there is really a paradox that was created between my nervousness about the plastic situation in the oceans and the fact that I was part of this problem because, myself, I generated a lot of waste through my practice. It is a paradox that many athletes experience.

The idea of ​​recycling sports equipment came to me when I met my partner Benoit Gourlet, who worked at Décathlon, and who also saw the impact of the sports industry on the environment. The objective in creating La comma is to give a second life to end-of-life sports equipment by transforming it into a backpack and a bicycle bag.

How do you make these backpacks and bicycle bags?

Today, we mainly make backpacks from inflatable kayaks. We collect the decathlon kayaks directly, we cut them, we clean them in the washing machine, then we iron them so that they are flat and then we simply come to sew with the patterns to make the new bags.

It makes hyperfunctional and technical bags because they are materials that are intrinsically of very good quality. We have another bag that is made from zodiac canvas. The entire outer canvas is zodiac canvas, the seat belts that we collect in breakages are used to make suspenders. Climbing mats make the back so it’s very comfortable and inside all the pockets are made from end-of-life tents that have been cleaned because it is an extremely light material.

It’s really the principle of saying to ourselves that each material has incredible intrinsic qualities and we just want to sublimate them in their second life by using them in the right place depending on the bags we are going to make.

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Elisa Tassan