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Meet the sustainable fabrics of the future

Meet the sustainable fabrics of the future

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Leathers, cottons and silks made from fruit, vegetables and leftovers are just some of the new materials that more of us will be wearing soon.

Leathers, cottons and silks made from fruit, vegetables and leftovers are just some of the new materials that more of us will be wearing soon.

Meet the sustainable fabrics of the future
We’ve been wearing what we hunt for a long time and it makes sense that as we move away from animal products and graze on more plant-based or lab-made dishes, that we also look to what lies beneath our feet or zoom into petri dishes for our updated wardrobes.

Brands and designers such as Adidas and Stella McCartney have been most visible at the forefront of this sustainable fashion revolution for years. They’ve been using material solution companies like Bolt Threads in California, which seems to be leading the pack with their alternative and bio-engineered silks and leathers. Natural Fiber Welding is making plant leather products using zero plastics in Illinois. Flocus, a textile brand based in Shanghai has also been exploring fibers from trees like kapok, that bear edible crops and are similar to cotton but are more eco- and worker-friendly.

So what exactly is on the not quite-edible menu?

Algae/Bacteria

Roya Aghighi, a Canadian-Iranian designer, has produced a new range of clothing called biogarmentry, designed to “address the drastic increase to the environmental impact of textile waste and air pollution”.

She’s created, with a group of scientists at the University of British Columbia, a 100% natural and biodegradable living textile that can clean the air through photosynthesis. A care label on one of the sheer kimono wraps reads that it’s 100% lab made and contains green living cells whose life cycle depends on how you take care of it. You can activate the cells by leaving the garment in direct sunlight for two hours after opening the package. The textile is made from algae that is spun together with nano polymers and you can keep it clean by watering it. Once it’s had its day, just throw it into the compost. Roya is in residence at the Materials Experience Lab, a research group which challenges our relationship to materials from food to design.

Not just an actor, Jason Momoa is also an environmental activist, and recently launched a vegan sneaker range with So iLL, with kicks that have algae and cork insoles. The algae’s taken from algal blooms, which are harmful bacteria that signal that there’s too much algae in the ocean or freshwater that can kill plants and fish by blocking sunlight and using up a lot of oxygen.

Another brand that’s used the aquatic organisms as a fashion (and wellness) find, is Algaeing, who received a Global Change Award from the H&M Foundation for turning them into environmentally friendly dyes and bio-fibre fabric that “releases anti-oxidants, vitamins and other nutrients to the skin”.

Coconut fibres

Next up is plant leather company Natural Fiber Welding. They’ve worked with Allbirds, to create vegan leather made from cork powder and coconut fibers. Allbirds, which was already making sustainably-focused apparel like shoes that aim to tread lightly on the earth, and tees fashioned from crab shells, wants to offer these vegan leather replacement options too for their current shoes.

Fungi

Aniela Hoitink, a textile designer and founder of NEFFA, a Dutch innovation company which has also won a Global Change Award, has been working on custom-made clothes that she 3D-printed from a compostable mushroom root recipe.

Adidas will soon launch their sneakers made from another mushroom leather that New York Times, calling fungus, “Fall's hottest fashion trend," says, “can be grown in eight to 10 days, compared to raising cattle which can take at least 18 months — and as much as five years”.

Kapok

This huge tropical tree, which is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and West Africa, yields cotton-like fibers that can be spun into yarn. There are seeds that can be eaten roasted or raw but it’s the fluffy crop that’s useful for making new materials. The fibers are waterproof, lighter than cotton, 100% biodegradable, 100% recyclable and use less water and energy in production than cotton.

Pineapple leaves

H&M, in their continued quest to make more sustainable clothes including shoes, has been using Pinatex, a company based in Barcelona, Spain and London, UK. They make textiles from old pineapple leaves, which are a byproduct of the fruit’s harvest in the Philippines. Hugo Boss and Chanel are also said to have worked with or are interested in this new material.

Individuals in the US who are working with fabrics of the future

Stephanie Benedetto is the founder of The Queen of Raw. A marketplace that diverts textile waste by selling unused fabric to designers worldwide. Even with the development of eco-friendly textiles, the reality is over $120 billion worth of fabric is still sitting around unused. That’s why this company’s mission is to make these sustainable and deadstock materials “available to you, at any time, from any place” and prevent excess product from being burned or buried in a landfill.

Aaron Nesser, Aleks Gosieweski, and Tessa Callaghan’s company Algiknit is “transforming the fashion ecosystem” through the development of textile fibers from one of the most regenerative organisms on the planet, kelp. The team’s renewable and biodegradable yarns can be dyed using natural pigments in a closed loop cycle.  Their vision is to help the textile industry move towards using materials with a significantly lower environmental footprint, and to continue developing different types of materials that will support a circular economy.

What do you think of these fabrics of the future? Let us know on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

We’ve been wearing what we hunt for a long time and it makes sense that as we move away from animal products and graze on more plant-based or lab-made dishes, that we also look to what lies beneath our feet or zoom into petri dishes for our updated wardrobes.

Brands and designers such as Adidas and Stella McCartney have been most visible at the forefront of this sustainable fashion revolution for years. They’ve been using material solution companies like Bolt Threads in California, which seems to be leading the pack with their alternative and bio-engineered silks and leathers. Natural Fiber Welding is making plant leather products using zero plastics in Illinois. Flocus, a textile brand based in Shanghai has also been exploring fibers from trees like kapok, that bear edible crops and are similar to cotton but are more eco- and worker-friendly.

So what exactly is on the not quite-edible menu?

Algae/Bacteria

Roya Aghighi, a Canadian-Iranian designer, has produced a new range of clothing called biogarmentry, designed to “address the drastic increase to the environmental impact of textile waste and air pollution”.

She’s created, with a group of scientists at the University of British Columbia, a 100% natural and biodegradable living textile that can clean the air through photosynthesis. A care label on one of the sheer kimono wraps reads that it’s 100% lab made and contains green living cells whose life cycle depends on how you take care of it. You can activate the cells by leaving the garment in direct sunlight for two hours after opening the package. The textile is made from algae that is spun together with nano polymers and you can keep it clean by watering it. Once it’s had its day, just throw it into the compost. Roya is in residence at the Materials Experience Lab, a research group which challenges our relationship to materials from food to design.

Not just an actor, Jason Momoa is also an environmental activist, and recently launched a vegan sneaker range with So iLL, with kicks that have algae and cork insoles. The algae’s taken from algal blooms, which are harmful bacteria that signal that there’s too much algae in the ocean or freshwater that can kill plants and fish by blocking sunlight and using up a lot of oxygen.

Another brand that’s used the aquatic organisms as a fashion (and wellness) find, is Algaeing, who received a Global Change Award from the H&M Foundation for turning them into environmentally friendly dyes and bio-fibre fabric that “releases anti-oxidants, vitamins and other nutrients to the skin”.

Coconut fibres

Next up is plant leather company Natural Fiber Welding. They’ve worked with Allbirds, to create vegan leather made from cork powder and coconut fibers. Allbirds, which was already making sustainably-focused apparel like shoes that aim to tread lightly on the earth, and tees fashioned from crab shells, wants to offer these vegan leather replacement options too for their current shoes.

Fungi

Aniela Hoitink, a textile designer and founder of NEFFA, a Dutch innovation company which has also won a Global Change Award, has been working on custom-made clothes that she 3D-printed from a compostable mushroom root recipe.

Adidas will soon launch their sneakers made from another mushroom leather that New York Times, calling fungus, “Fall's hottest fashion trend," says, “can be grown in eight to 10 days, compared to raising cattle which can take at least 18 months — and as much as five years”.

Kapok

This huge tropical tree, which is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and West Africa, yields cotton-like fibers that can be spun into yarn. There are seeds that can be eaten roasted or raw but it’s the fluffy crop that’s useful for making new materials. The fibers are waterproof, lighter than cotton, 100% biodegradable, 100% recyclable and use less water and energy in production than cotton.

Pineapple leaves

H&M, in their continued quest to make more sustainable clothes including shoes, has been using Pinatex, a company based in Barcelona, Spain and London, UK. They make textiles from old pineapple leaves, which are a byproduct of the fruit’s harvest in the Philippines. Hugo Boss and Chanel are also said to have worked with or are interested in this new material.

Individuals in the US who are working with fabrics of the future

Stephanie Benedetto is the founder of The Queen of Raw. A marketplace that diverts textile waste by selling unused fabric to designers worldwide. Even with the development of eco-friendly textiles, the reality is over $120 billion worth of fabric is still sitting around unused. That’s why this company’s mission is to make these sustainable and deadstock materials “available to you, at any time, from any place” and prevent excess product from being burned or buried in a landfill.

Aaron Nesser, Aleks Gosieweski, and Tessa Callaghan’s company Algiknit is “transforming the fashion ecosystem” through the development of textile fibers from one of the most regenerative organisms on the planet, kelp. The team’s renewable and biodegradable yarns can be dyed using natural pigments in a closed loop cycle.  Their vision is to help the textile industry move towards using materials with a significantly lower environmental footprint, and to continue developing different types of materials that will support a circular economy.

What do you think of these fabrics of the future? Let us know on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

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