Gallery: 10 Eco-Fashion Garments Inspired by Nature and Biomimicry


After spying diamond-shaped wood chips on a workshop floor at London's Kingston University—the leftovers of some architecture student, no doubt—Stefanie Nieuwenhuys was reminded of a secondhand snakeskin bag she once purchased. Scooping them up, the fashion student set to work, layering the wooden scraps onto fabric like reptilian scales.

To minimize waste, Stefanie Nieuwenhuys layered discarded pieces of wood onto fabric like reptilian scales.

Nieuwenhuys's "aha" moment resulted in her master's project: a collection of corsets, floor-length evening dresses, trousers, and neckpieces that marries modern laser-cutting techniques with a couturier's delicate yet exacting touch.

Eschewing virgin resources, Nieuwenhuys worked with bio-waste firm InCrops Enterprise Hub in Norwich to obtain discarded pieces of plywood, which she honed into efficient forms that left behind little waste. Glued onto unbleached organic cotton, the brown-and-ecru “scales” become a “simulacra of nature, without discarding nature’s inherent harmonies,” she tells Ecouterre.

biomimicry, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, eco-textiles, eco-friendly textiles, sustainable textiles, living fashion, living clothing


Anything you can do, Ma Nature can do better. That’s not to say you can’t crib from the best, of course: adapting biological principles to solve design problems is as old as civilization, whether it’s studying birds to enable human flight, modeling skyscrapers after termite mounds, or creating leaf-like solar cells to boost the output of photovoltaics. “Biomimicry,” a term popularized by Janine Benyus in her 1997 book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, mines billion-year-old adaptation strategies to craft a more sustainable future. Here are 10 examples of how the fashion industry draws cues from life to innovate and awe.

Photo by Shutterstock

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11 Responses to “10 Eco-Fashion Garments Inspired by Nature and Biomimicry”

  1. Diane Pham says:

    the shark skin wetsuit is badass!

  2. markboyer says:

    Yeah, that wetsuit is seriously cool.

  3. jillicious says:

    Love the photo examples from nature – it really highlights the idea so well!

  4. Lori Zimmer says:

    Stefanie Nieuwenhuys’ work is so beautiful

  5. Yuka Yoneda says:

    I would LOVE a grass fur vest. Could be a wonderful DIY…

  6. kathryn holmen says:

    I just recently learned about biomimicry in textiles in class. It really intrigues me how nature can inspire certain fashion garments. The swimsuit that resembles shark skin was the most interesting garment I read about. We learned about this in class also. We learned that some Olympic swimmers were using this technology because it made them swim faster. It is also unfair to poorer countries that cannot afford this type of technology though. I would be interested to see how much faster it really does make a swimmer.

  7. jane sarkar says:

    You should read Janine Benyus’ book to start off with, and check out The Biomimicry Institute. Whilst the textile construction of that swimsuit was to imitate the way that water deflected off the scales of the shark, male swimmers in the London Olympics also removed significant areas of their body hair to eliminate drag too – and they also train hard.

  8. m.j.c. says:

    i am doing a school project on biomimicry and nature, and this site is really helping.

  9. jane sarkar says:

    That is excellent. To feel the passion and the common sense, Janine Benyus’ eloquent talk via TED Talks is so inspirational – it may even start to change your life.

  10. neymarima (@neymarima) says:

    My name is rima and I’m a GCSE textiles student my product is inspired by nature and Specifically “Sea nature” I’m thinking to make an outrageous fashion garment which will be suitable for the next London fashion show, it will be something like jelly fish dress.. Do you have any ideas that can help me with my product? I will really appreaciate it.

    Thank you

  11. jane sarkar says:

    Gosh Nina

    Yes always be totally outrageous. You only live once.

    A jelly fish dress…. jelly fish graceful elegant propellers – if its the mechanistics you are interested in, Hussein Chalayan does it so well- many videos on youtube… If its the soft, slippery yet rubbery material – you should check out what Bompas and Parr does with real jelly – sublime. Good luck :)

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