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Fabrics for the 21st Century

Updated on September 9, 2015
a "leather" jacket made completely from biocellulose fibers made in a lab!
a "leather" jacket made completely from biocellulose fibers made in a lab!

The future of fabrics in fashion

Fabrics for a new Millennium

With the Earth's population surpassing the seven billion person mark this year and rising, we have come to realize that if we would like to live on this Earth much longer we must work in unison with the Mother Nature. Gone are the days of mass consumption and waste, enter an age where generations, both young and old are feeling the effects of America's industrial age; so where does fashion fall in all of this? It has always been thought that clothing be discarded in the name of fashion; it wasn't until around the 1950's when Americans began to discover the beauty and durability of man made fibers such as, polyester, latex, and spandex. Blended with natural fiber, you can own pieces that are nearly unidentifiable compared to their natural fiber counterparts, to the untrained eye, of course. Scientists and designers alike are leaving the laboratories and design studios and looking to some of the Earth's first inhabitants for fabrics of the future. Biocellulose fibers are the most exciting and innovative fibers coming into existence. These fibers are created in labs and stem from their nature’s counterparts. With textile manufacturers looking to geckos for their extra-strength footpads, fallen, dead leaves for potential sustainable flooring, and spiders for their UV reflective silks for windows in large office buildings. These are just a few of the innovations scientists are discovering can be useful for future fibers; although, this idea is not, by any means, new. In 1948 George De Mestral discovered Velcro from the small burs that were stuck to his dog after playing outside.

What WGSN is calling these fibers are “biocellulose fibers”. These fibers are spun by bacteria and feed on a sugary liquid. What is so great about these biocellulose fibers is that not only are they similar in strength, durability, and feel of leather and parchment, but that they are also biodegradable, biocompatible, and edible. They have created a “leather” jacket completely composed of biocellulose fibers. It is nearly identical to its cow counterpart. Scientists are discovering new ways to take nature’s defense systems and apply them to man. For example, spiders spin webs that are generally invisible to man, but visible to birds. This is due to special UV rays spun into the web, giving the web a reflective quality only seen by birds. Scientists are discovering ways to take this reflective silk and apply it to glass windows in high rise structures so that birds can see the windows before they fly into them.

Another great thing about these biocellulose, laboratory made fibers is that not only are the eco-friendly, but also animal friendly as well. I don’t eat meat and I don’t wear fur, but I could never, ever give up leather! Vegans on the other hand have taken an unspoken oath to not purchase any animal products, including leather. With biocellulose fibers they can now have a great “leather” jacket without feeling guilty. Vegetarianism and Veganism has been on the rise over the last few years. With health advocates claiming ads such as, “meatless Monday” or asking Americans to take a pledge of going meatless at least one day a week. So not only have consumers as a whole grown more eco-conscious, but health conscious as well.

While eco-conscious consumers are nothing new, the mainstream idea of taking on more responsibility for the Earth’s well being is. People are beginning to realize that what they do not only affects their children, but them as well. People are living longer and seeing the damaging side effects caused by waste and pollution. The idea of “not my problem” is no longer a mechanism in which people can justify their destructive ways.

I would love to hear your opinions on this new trend! Please take my poll below and feel free to discuss below!

Future of Fabrics

Would you wear lab grown clothing?

See results

Lab Grown Jackets

Leftover Kombucha bacteria bomber
Leftover Kombucha bacteria bomber
"leather" jacket for Suzanne Lee
"leather" jacket for Suzanne Lee


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