GROWING GARMENTS FROM MICROBES
Suzanne Lee grows her own “biocouture” from vats of green tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. Lee, a senior research fellow at the School of Fashion & Textiles at Central Saint Martins in London coaxes fibers from this microbial soup, coalescing thin, wet sheets of bacterial cellulose that can be molded to a dress form.
Suzanne Lee grows her own “biocouture” from vats of green tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast.
As the sheets dry out, overlapping edges “felt” together to become fused seams. When all moisture has evaporated, the fibers develop a tight-knit, papyrus-like surface that can be bleached or stained with fruit and vegetable dyes such as turmeric, indigo, and beetroot.
OUTERWEAR THAT TRANSPIRES LIKE TREES
Páramo’s waterproof jackets feature fabric technology inspired by the transpiration activity of trees. The process is akin to evaporation: pore-like openings in plant foliage, collectively known as stomata, open and close to release water vapor into the air. The water loss allows the plant to access carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, as well as to cool itself when the mercury rises.
Páramo’s line of outerwear features fabric technology inspired by the transpiration activity of trees.
Unlike conventional mineral wax, the company’s Nikwax treatment leaves spaces between the fibers elastic, open, and breathable. Besides providing water-repellency, the elastomer also traps air next to the skin, directing moisture away from the body and preventing external moisture from entering.
“SHEDDABLE” GARMENTS THAT REDUCE LAUNDERING
Katie Ledger wants you to make like a serpent and molt—the layers of your clothes, that is. Inspired by the way a snake sheds its skin, the London College of Art student envisions garments with layers that slough off without the need for frequent laundering.
“Shed Me” garments slough off their layers like a snake, reducing the need for frequent laundering.
In addition to slashing the heavy energy burden that washing and drying entail—an average laundry cycle uses up to 40 gallons of water and 5,500 watts of electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy—Ledger’s “Shed Me” project imagines clothes that change color and even style with the removal of each successive layer.
Zoe Alexander Fisher designed a hand-felted wool coat during her sophomore year at Sarah Lawrence College. Worn in winter, the garment can be disposed of by planting it in the spring. The wool acts as a fertilizer for the embedded seeds, which grow into food-producing plants throughout the summer in time for a fall harvest.
Zoe Alexander Fisher’s seed-embedded coat is worn in winter, planted in spring, grown in summer, and harvested in winter.
“From production to disposal, the product remains a part of the environment,” Fisher says. “By biomimicking nature’s seasons, it [serves to] draw attention to our human relationship and commitment to the natural environment.”