Leather derived from mushrooms. Knitwear cultured from algae. Yoga pants blended with crab shells. For the fashion industry, frozen in the amber of tradition and resistant to change, these are practically mutinous developments.
It isn’t just niche brands that are dabbling in these so-called “biosynthetics,” which is to say, man-made materials with organic origins. H&M has thrown its financial largesse behind textiles made of grape pulp, cow manure and orange peel. Patagonia made the world’s first renewable wetsuit from a South American desert shrub. Reebok is poised to release a series of plant-based sneakers “grown” from non-food-source corn. And Stella McCartney is incorporating both Bolt Threads’ yeast-engineered synthetic spider silk and a fungal-based faux leather dubbed “Mylo” into her oeuvre of vegetarian-friendly togs.
“I think the fashion industry is desperately in need of newness and modernity,” McCartney told Sourcing Journal. “Once you take that technology and innovation and you marry it with luxury fashion and design and creativity, there’s no end to what magical madness you can create.”
In short, if cotton is still the fabric of lives, it may be in for some competition.