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BioCouture: U.K. Designer “Grows” an Entire Wardrobe From Bacteria

BioCouture, Suzanne Lee, wearable technology, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, London, bacteria, eco-textiles, sustainable textiles

Suzanne Lee can conjure clothing out of thin air. No, wait, that’s not entirely accurate. She’ll need at least a couple of bathtubs, some yeast, a pinch of bacteria, and several cups of sweetened green tea. Lee, who is a senior research fellow at the School of Fashion & Textiles at Central Saint Martins in London, is the brains (and brawn) behind BioCouture, an experiment in growing garments from the same microbes that ferment the tasty caffeinated beverage.

BioCouture, Suzanne Lee, wearable technology, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, London, bacteria, eco-textiles, sustainable textiles

KEEPING SPORE

From this microbial soup, fibers begin to sprout and propagate, eventually resulting in thin, wet sheets of bacterial cellulose that can be molded to a dress form. 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.

The fibers result in thin, wet sheets of bacterial cellulose that can be molded to a dress form

The ruffle-embellished jacket is the latest addition to Lee’s kooky collection of biofilm wearables, all of which can be swiftly composted when they wear out. It’s currently on display at London’s Science Museum, where it’s part of a new exhibit, Trash Fashion: Designing Out Waste.

+ BioCouture

+ Trash Fashion: Designing Out Waste

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8 Responses to “BioCouture: U.K. Designer “Grows” an Entire Wardrobe From Bacteria”

  1. Username says:

    So what if it starts to rain? Your clothes wash right off too?

  2. harlequin516 says:

    This is so interesting. Its not so pretty but wow… How durable is this fabric?

  3. EnzoR says:

    You can notice the seams in the pictures, so it’s just the fabric to be grown, not the cloth.
    It’s more or less the same as any synthetic fabric, with its CO2 load.

  4. Michelle says:

    I love it. I love the color, shape, style. Does it rot?

  5. Sonia_fofis says:

    This idea is brilliant! It’s very interesting, but I’d like to know how durable and washable is this kind of fabric!

  6. fuzzywzhe says:

    The difference between and engineer and a designer is that the engineer would recognize that the product would be something that is neither practical and something nobody would ever actually use, the designer puts it in a gallery to have people hypocritically ooh and ahh over it while they are thinking “I’d never put that on my skin…”

  7. indokombucha (@indokombucha) says:

    You cannot wash it, because the scoby skin will reform back to scoby gel..
    But, I still love the idea ;D

  8. William Winter says:

    Hi, I am a Chemistry Prof in the US who works with cellulose. You textile people have been using cellulose for centuries only you call it cotton, ramie, or linen depending upon the plant from which you get it, or maybe you call it rayon or even Lyocell / Tencel if you do a little chemical processing on cellulose from wood. I haven’t heard of garments made from any of these other celluloses dissolving in rain water, so I suspect that this is not a significant issue once the films have truly dried.

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