Fashion Innovation in Materials: From Spider Silk to Milk to Dandelions

The fashion industry has finally come to the realization that there’s a stringent need for green materials to promote sustainability and slow the clock on climate change. Whether it’s a result of moral responsibility or the growing consumer demand for ethical fashion, it’s hard to say. However, this newfound passion and drive for sustainable materials have ushered in some truly innovative materials.

Whilst new sustainable materials are popping up in labs and studios, some good old fibres are getting the due recognition they need.

For instance, hemp, which has been used for clothing since time immemorial, is making a huge comeback owing to its eco-friendliness. It’s even more eco-friendly than cotton.

They say the need is the mother of invention, and the urgent need to curtail fashion’s carbon footprint has brought forth some interestingly different but sustainable materials.

Here are three innovative materials defining the sustainable future of fashion:

Spider Silk

Pure silk comes from the silkworm, we already know that. So you probably think spider silk comes from spiders. It does, and it does not.

The smooth strands of web that spiders produce inspired scientists to see if those fibres could be used for clothing. They studied the properties of these fibres to come up with hybrid silk similar to it, which can be used for clothing and other wearables.

BoltThread and AMSilk have successfully produced materials that mimic the properties of spider silk. The former has partnered with Stella McCartney, a brand well-known for its sustainable practices, to create a dress out of this innovative silk.

We have yet to learn more about how truly sustainable the production of this material would be. The good news is that, unlike pure silk, spider silk is supposedly vegan as it doesn’t come from spiders directly.

Milk Fibre

Let’s tweak the good old saying, ‘don’t cry over spilt milk.’ Let’s say, don’t cry over expired milk because it can very well be used to make a sweater or underwear.

The so-called milk fibre is innovative, but it’s not new. It was actually developed by a chemist in war era Italy. However, recently, the process of its creation has been improved, so it can be used on a commercial scale.

The fibre is essentially made from casein, a protein in milk, and acrylonitrile. However, a German entrepreneur and designer, Anke Domaske, has successfully produced the fibre only using milk protein.

Dandelion Rubber

The rubber industry is responsible for deforestation, corruption, and human rights violations. Could the pretty looking dandelions be the answer? Well, their sturdy, latex producing stems are.

The flower’s stem contains latex, and when it’s dried, it turns into something similar to rubber. The US-based brand, Cole Haan, has produced sneakers with an outsole containing this innovative alternative to rubber.

Even More Innovation is Needed to Reverse the Damage

These three materials pose a viable solution to the need for more sustainable, natural materials; there’s still a need for more innovation.

Luckily, there’s a lot of work going on with companies exploring mushrooms, coconuts, and lotus flowers for producing fibres for clothing and accessories. Thanks to rising consumer awareness, stricter policies, and collaborations with companies outside of fashion, we’re seeing much-needed progress in this area. We need to address sustainability at the micro-level and not limit the efforts to production or consumption.

La Jolie

For Elemntz