The Innovation of Alternative Textiles - And Are They The Future?

THE INNOVATION OF ALTERNATIVE TEXTILES - AND ARE THEY THE FUTURE?

Sustainable fashion offers innovations, solutions and alternatives at multiple levels.


From repurposed textiles to regenerated plastics, there are multiple ways to reduce the environmental impact of fabric manufacturing.


But, a new innovation has come to the fore - the realm of plant-based textiles and bio-fabricated alternatives.

Image by CottonBro on Pexels

OUR COLLECTION PRIORITIZES CRAFTMANSHIP


Karim Guest New York and the collection of designers at THE GUESTLIST epitomize slow fashion that is gentler to the environment, supports social responsibility, and champions the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of sustainable consumption and production by 2030. Our collection prioritizes craftmanship, quality over quantity, and is created on a made-to-order basis.


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


TENCEL™/LYOCELL

Lyocell has become a popular alternative fiber to viscose and rayon in the sustainable fashion world. TENCEL™ is leading the way as the top supplier. Similar to rayon, Lyocell is a regenerated cellulose fiber. The difference is that it is made from the wood of sustainably harvested forests. It uses no toxic chemicals in the fiber production process - meaning that significantly less damage is caused to the environment and the workers handling the materials. As such, TENCEL™ fibers have gained the reputation for their environmentally responsible closed loop production process. The solvent-spinning process recycles process water and reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%. These textiles also make use of less energy than viscose in their construction, contributing, overall, to significantly less pollution than viscose factories.

Image by Tencel

However, the realm of textile alternatives reaches beyond creating sustainable mimics of preexisting man-made textiles. Innovations have stretched even further, even going so as far as to negate the need for animal-sourced leather entirely. 


It might surprise you to know that your leather bag or wallet could be replaced with what would otherwise make a tropical cocktail or a delicious risotto!

Piñatex

Using the waste from pineapple harvests, Dr Carmen Hijosa created a durable and sustainable alternative to leather. By repurposing the pineapple leaf, she created a method by which the fibers in the otherwise-wasted leaves are extracted, dried, and put through a process that ultimately results in a durable, water-resistant, and entirely ecological alternative to real leather: Piñatex.


Her creation has not only forgone the need to use animals for leather goods, but has created a means to uplift the farming communities - through the creation of an entire industry in which they can work for an additional income stream. This solution is an example of a holistic view of sustainability. By-products that would otherwise have gone to waste are made into a useful product, while simultaneously contributing to the upliftment of local communities. 

Image by David Stewart

Using the waste from pineapple harvests, Dr Carmen Hijosa created a durable and sustainable alternative to leather. By repurposing the pineapple leaf, she created a method by which the fibers in the otherwise-wasted leaves are extracted, dried, and put through a process that ultimately results in a durable, water-resistant, and entirely ecological alternative to real leather: Piñatex.


Image by David Stewart

Her creation has not only forgone the need to use animals for leather goods, but has created a means to uplift the farming communities - through the creation of an entire industry in which they can work for an additional income stream. This solution is an example of a holistic view of sustainability. By-products that would otherwise have gone to waste are made into a useful product, while simultaneously contributing to the upliftment of local communities. 

Mylo

Image from Bolt Threads

Leather is not reserved to tropical-fruit-alternatives. Bolt Threads formulated another alternative that is both plant-based and potentially biodegradable. Their product, Mylo, is created using the advanced underground structure of mushrooms, known as Mycelium. They manipulate and engineer cells to form the durable, leather-like textile that is known as Mylo.


Image from Bolt Threads

Leather is not reserved to tropical-fruit-alternatives. Bolt Threads formulated another alternative that is both plant-based and potentially biodegradable. Their product, Mylo, is created using the advanced underground structure of mushrooms, known as Mycelium. They manipulate and engineer cells to form the durable, leather-like textile that is known as Mylo.


This process is not only sustainable in its plant-based roots, but also in the fact that the process can reduce the time taken to create and produce leather, lowering the production time from years to mere days. Mylo leather was used to create a prototype of the Falabella bag by Stella McCartney, and was displayed at the Fashioned from Nature exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Leather is not reserved to tropical-fruit-alternatives. Bolt Threads formulated another alternative that is both plant-based and potentially biodegradable. Their product, Mylo, is created using the advanced underground structure of mushrooms, known as Mycelium. They manipulate and engineer cells to form the durable, leather-like textile that is known as Mylo.


Image from Bolt Threads

This process is not only sustainable in its plant-based roots, but also in the fact that the process can reduce the time taken to create and produce leather, lowering the production time from years to mere days. Mylo leather was used to create a prototype of the Falabella bag by Stella McCartney, and was displayed at the Fashioned from Nature exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

This process is not only sustainable in its plant-based roots, but also in the fact that the process can reduce the time taken to create and produce leather, lowering the production time from years to mere days. Mylo leather was used to create a prototype of the Falabella bag by Stella McCartney, and was displayed at the Fashioned from Nature exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Micro-Silk

Bolt Threads has explored the mimicry of spiders silk, using the fibers to create a durable, supple and soft fabric that is sustainably made and is, potentially, biodegradable. Their product, Micro-Silk, is created by studying the properties of spiders silk, and genetically bioengineering yeast to form a protein through a process of fermentation. The product is then spun like silk, and knitted to create a textile much like any other. 

Image from Bolt Threads

But Micro-Silk is so much more than just that. Collaborating with Stella McCartney, Bolt Threads helped create a dress made from their Micro-Silk that was displayed at the MoMa in October 2017. This collaboration was followed by another in July of 2019, in which Stella McCartney and Adidas collaborated to create a tennis dressfrom Mico-Silk using a biodegradable cellulose blend fiber.

Bolt Threads has explored the mimicry of spiders silk, using the fibers to create a durable, supple and soft fabric that is sustainably made and is, potentially, biodegradable. Their product, Micro-Silk, is created by studying the properties of spiders silk, and genetically bioengineering yeast to form a protein through a process of fermentation. The product is then spun like silk, and knitted to create a textile much like any other. 


But Micro-Silk is so much more than just that. Collaborating with Stella McCartney, Bolt Threads helped create a dress made from their Micro-Silk that was displayed at the MoMa in October 2017. This collaboration was followed by another in July of 2019, in which Stella McCartney and Adidas collaborated to create a tennis dress from Mico-Silk using a biodegradable cellulose blend fiber.

Image from Bolt Threads

Bolt Threads has explored the mimicry of spiders silk, using the fibers to create a durable, supple and soft fabric that is sustainably made and is, potentially, biodegradable. Their product, Micro-Silk, is created by studying the properties of spiders silk, and genetically bioengineering yeast to form a protein through a process of fermentation. The product is then spun like silk, and knitted to create a textile much like any other. 


Image from Bolt Threads

But Micro-Silk is so much more than just that. Collaborating with Stella McCartney, Bolt Threads helped create a dress made from their Micro-Silk that was displayed at the MoMa in October 2017. This collaboration was followed by another in July of 2019, in which Stella McCartney and Adidas collaborated to create a tennis dress from Mico-Silk using a biodegradable cellulose blend fiber.

now, we can really start to transform the aspects of industries that are so harmful

Sustainable and plant-based alternatives have established themselves past the realms of the simple bamboo and hemp approaches of yesterday. Their threads are now crossing over into the realms of science and digitalization too. The revelations of biotechnology, and the opportunities it creates, are opening up unknown realms of fashion - nothing short of inspiring. The by-products of such innovation are incredible examples of how by combining technology with the values of sustainability and respect for the environment as a whole, we are sure to see major advancements in the fashion industry. The need for change in our current systems has long been known, and now, we can really start to transform the aspects of industries that are so harmful.

Image by CottonBro on Pexels

These innovations may be overwhelming at times for many, and are certain to be less accessible than their fast fashion counterparts. However, we can hope that in a world with such rapid digitalization in every sphere of life, and the growing need for change, these plant-based alternatives might become commonplace. We may see Pinatex handbags displayed on the shelves beside their leather counterparts. A Micro-Silk dress might be seen in stores, amongst the cotton and cashmere we are used to, just like any other product. With the innovations of fashion changing constantly, it is hard to predict what normal might look like even a year from now. But, there is an obvious need for change, and these innovations prove that a sustainable, environmentally-conscious future for fashion may be closer than we think.

TENCEL™ is a trademark of the Lenzing AG



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