Imagine wearing clothes made of plastic water bottles. Or Pinatex (fibres from pineapples) or fibers made from chewed gum (yes, really. No it's not gross).
There is a definite buzz in the fashion institute when it comes to sustainability. Brands are scrambling to catch up with growing consumer interest and the realities of climate change and nowhere have the innovations be as exciting as the R&D that's gone into new materials.
While brands have made little progress untangling and improving complex supply chains, there has been great progress on the materials front. Given that fashion is the second dirtiest industry and world's largest consumer of pesticides and second largest consumer of water (after agriculture) innovative materials can't get to market fast enough.
Here are five incredible textiles that make the future of fashion as exciting as ever.
A stretchy fiber made up with as much as 50% reclaimed pre-industry waste, Roica is a new fiber that is making waves in fashion for its rubbery stretchy properties that make it ideal for sportswear, lingerie and even some outerwear. With the rise of athletica, Roica's future is bright.
2. Bionic Yarn
Perhaps the coolest textile on this list thanks in large part to its famous co-owner Pharrell, Bionic yarn is fabric created from recycled ocean plastics. What separates Bionic yarn from typical recycled polyester is, which is often weaker than virgin materials, is the company’s patented yarn is made of three layers: a core that gives the fabric strength and stretch, a middle layer of recycled material that makes up 45 percent of the yarn, and a top coating of any fiber—be it cotton, wool, linen, or nylon—to give the fabric the desired feel. A stronger thread made from sea trash? Now that makes us happy!
3. Bolt threads
Insects and spiders have the ability to produce natural silk fibers with remarkable properties including high tensile strength, elasticity, durability and softness. Bolt Threads, has set out to develop new technology to mimic this amazing silk production process sustainably on a large scale. By studying silk proteins found in nature to determine what gives them their incredible properties, Bolt Threads develop proteins inspired by these natural silks by putting genes into yeast. They produce the protein in large quantities through fermentation, using yeast, sugar and water before taking the silk proteins and spinning them into fiber.
Sometimes what you are looking for can be right there in front of you so long as you are creative and resourceful. That's the idea behind Ecotec; recycled cotton-blend yarns are made from new, pre-consumer cotton textile scraps that would otherwise be discarded in landfills. Ecotec fibers are created from repurposed fabric scraps that are collected from cutting operations, sorted by color, reprocessed, blended, and re-spun into yarns. This not only helps to eliminate landfill waste, but because the scraps are already colored, Ecotec can skip - what is typically a harmful - dying process thus saving water and avoiding harmful dyes.
This one hasn't been used for fashion just yet but it's so wild we just couldn't leave it out. Gumdrop Ltd (how great is that name?!?!?!) is the first company in the world to recycle and process chewing gum into a range of new compounds that can be used in the rubber and plastics industry. Basically, you're creating a sustainable solution every time you chew Orbitz. Founded on a closed loop recycling process. Gum-tec® can produce everything from combs, to guitar picks to frisbees. While not currently available a fiber isn't too far behind. The only thing is, Gumtec relies on people tossing their gum into the gum drop receptacles meaning you better get chewing!