Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Looking at future trends and technology inventions, there is a lot of focus on bio-tech innovations for the textile world. As we are trying to live more sustainably and up-cycle in fashion, new materials are brought to fashion.
What is bio-fabrication?
Bio-fabrication is a production of raw materials from small organism like bacteria. In the last few years, biotechnology is integrated into textiles more and more. Genetic materials are manipulated from one organism to another in order to create newer and smarter fabric alternatives. Can you imagine wearing clothes that are not just comfortable and soft, but also water proof, dust proof, anti bacterial and can regulate temperature? The new bio fabrics are developed with an intention to combine more functionalities into a single material. What if your clothes could also treat your skin wounds? The possibilities are endless, and with new bio technology they are feasible as well. After a long time we can see complete revolution in the textile industry. The use of bio technology and enzymes is not just saving energy, but also reducing usage of water, considering water is highly used in fashion.
Let's think about algae , which is already used in skin products, food and even in pharmaceuticals. It is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and it is easily sustained and grown. Using it in fabric development was nothing less than a sensible step forward.
There are several companies like “Algalife” creating innovative fibres and dyes made out of algae microorganisms. Algae is renewable and healthy for your body. Therefore, wouldn’t wearing algae clothes not just look good but also make you feel healthier? Many companies are still in a research stage of using algae in their materials, nonetheless the market is growing fast.
Another popular option in bio-fabrics is the use of fungi. The original purpose of using mushrooms in the textile industry was to use living organisms to create sustainable fabric. But looking at fabrics made of mushrooms today, is far more interesting. The material is durable, strong, waterproof and doesn't need to be sewn together. The clothes would be directly shaped inside a mould. A mycelium, which is multicellular part of the fungus, can be built in a lab within 3 to 4 weeks and with very little environmental cost. Wearing fungi materials is also great for people with sensitive skin as it is anti bacterial and sanitary. One disadvantage may be that the fungi material will start to weaken after 1 to 2 years.
As already mentioned, bacteria can be used to develop fabric dyes, which is making a huge impact on the dyeing industry, especially in terms of water use and pollution. This alternative method is not using any chemicals, therefore it is neither toxic, nor contaminating our landfill. After synthetic dyes were introduced to the market, we have lost interest and understanding towards natural resources and dyeing methods. But, with a new sustainable approach of dying fabrics we are coming back to ideas of natural pigments and bacteria.
With this revolution and redesigning of the textile industry, it appears designers and scientist will be working closer together. Designers will need to understand biology of the materials, and scientists, the process of production.