Clothing Content 101: Innovative Fibers

We've talked about both natural and synthetic fibers that are commonly used in today's clothing. We've learned that there is no one perfect fiber, that they all have their pros and cons. From growing to cutting down the crop, to processing chemicals, to harmful dyes, to water usage where one a fiber leads in once category, in flunks it the other. As technology improves and the creatives get more creative there are a lot of new fibers in the works that aren't so mainstream just yet. Mushroom leather, pineapple leather, and silk made from oranges. What an exciting future to look forward to.

Keep reading below to learn more about these innovations!

Modern Meadow: lab grown leather

Modern meadow takes DNA to grow leather like material in a lab, a process called bio-fabrication. Developed and created in New Jersey, this animal free leather can be manipulated to resemble different type of leather textures like cattle, ostrich, or alligator. This eliminates the pollution and environmental footprint that the leather industry creates. To read more about the dangers of leather production read my post about it here.

Photo Cred: Modern Meadow

Frumat: plant based leather

Frumat has also developed an environmentally friendly alternative to leather made from apple waste. Frumat was born in Italy, a place well-known for it's genuine leather products. What's better than a vegan, plant based leather but still keeping Italy's famous leather like quality? Frumat takes apples that would normally go to waste and upcycles them into a forever lasting material that can be made into different thicknesses, textures, and colors. The best part is that when it's no longer wanted and thrown away it will biodegrade.

Photo Cred: wallpaper, photography Peter Langer

SeaCell: fibers made from seaweed

Seacell blends seaweed and wood and transforms it into a fiber using a process similar to make lyocell. Developed in Austria, the creation of this fiber has adopted a circular approach and is selective with chemicals being used and ensures they are disposed of safely and properly. These fibers have healing properties and are rich in animo acids, minerals, and vitamins. Those who have skin problems have seen improvements when wearing this particular fiber. All seaweed that is extracted is sustainably farmed and they only take enough seaweed so that the plants are still able to regenerate and leave ecosystems unharmed.

Banana Tex: waterproof fabric made from banana stalks

Created in the Philippines, banana tex upcycles banana stalks that would normally be discarded to create a waterproof fabric. Farmed sustainably, the banana plant does not need any chemical fertilizers or an abundance of water in order for the plant to grow efficiently. This product is fully biodegradable and is a great alternative to plastic bags, and other waterproof fabrics that are made from plastic. Banana Tex can be used for a variety of different end products, from backpacks to chair cushions.

Photo Cred: Banana Tex

Pinatex: soft leather alternative made from pineapple leaves

Pinatex is made from pineapple leaves left over from harvest that normally would be discarded. The cellulose is used to make a soft leather like material. This certified B corporation adapted a circular model with a low environmental footprint. I'm fortunate enough to have been able to see and touch a real sample of this in person. It is very light and soft, and feels like a sueded leather. From shoes, to clothing, to bags, to home furnishings this leather alternative has taken a liking to many designers around the world.

Photo Cred: Miriam Al Sibai

Bolt Threads Mylo: leather alternative made from fungus

Mylo, a leather like material made from mycelium, or the vegetative part of fungi. The cells of mycelium are extracted and grown in renewable energy, the cells multiply and make this material that can be dyed, tanned, embossed, as typical leather would. Mylo is durable and abrasion resistant, and takes significantly less time to "grow" when compared to animal based leather (weeks vs years). Stella McCartney is a big supporter of this leather and has used it on multiple occasions. There is also an upcoming collab with Adidas and Stella McCartney using Bolt Thread's materials.

Photo Cred: Bolt Threads

Bolt Threads MicroSilk: silk alternative

A ethical, more environmental version of silk that is just as durable, silky, and strong, as well as biodegradable. By bioengineering yeast to adapt the same qualities as spider silk, they are able to produce a similar quality using yeast, water, and sugar through fermentation. Stella McCartney has also used this material to make clothing and is using this in partnership with Adidas. This material has the potential to replace other non-biodegradable materials like polyester or other synthetic materials that are currently being used as a silk alternative.

Photo Cred: Stella McCartney X Bolt Threads collab for MoMa 2017

Orange Fiber: silk alternative made from orange peels

Who would of thought oranges would be able to make such a pretty fabric? Made in Italy, this fabric can be used alone or blended with other fabrics depending on end use. All materials are by-products of the citrus industry so waste is being diverted from a landfill and made into a long-lasting, biodegradable fabric. This unique cellulose based fibers has caught the liking to fast fashion retailer H&M in 2019 and designer Salvator Ferragamo.

Photo Cred: Orange Fiber

Chip(s) Board: bio-plastic made from potato waste

This company was able to take potato waste to create a biodegradable plastic. These plastics come in different colors and opaqueness, and can be used for a variety of different products. Buttons, glasses, 3-D design, molding, Chip(s) Board does not use any toxic chemicals and are designed for a circular economy. Impatiently waiting for Warby Parker to collab with them on a collection of glasses.

Photo Cred: Chip(s) Board

I hope you enjoyed these past few weeks of more educational based posts, I truly believe that education is the first step towards making any type of real change. By being aware of our choices and what is in the clothes we wear gives us more power to be more selective in what we buy. I'm excited for the future ahead and hope that these innovative companies can continue to reduce waste and create better products that are healthier for us, and our environment.

If there is anything that you would like to read on my blog, send me an email - I am always looking for suggestions or open to any conversations one may want to have. :)