The concept for BioCouture originated during the research for Suzanne Lee?s book ?Fashioning?The Future: tomorrow?s wardrobe.’ A serendipitous conversation in 2003 with Dr. David?Hepworth, abiologist and materials scientist, presented a new vision of futurefashion – one that?emerges fully-formed from a vat of liquid.
Rather than exploit plants or petrochemicals to provide the raw material for fabric BioCouture is ?investigating the use of microbes to grow a textile biomaterial.Certain bacteria will spin ?microfibrils of pure cellulose duringfermentation which form a dense layer that can be harvested and dried.It can then either be used wet or molded onto a 3D form, like a dressshape, or dry it flat and then cut and sewed into a garment. From thereit can readily be dyed and printed on the material and since it requires far less dye than other fibres it has a huge environmental advantage.
With so many environmental concerns related to the production, consumption and disposal of?fashion textiles BioCouture is pioneering a new eco-friendly and sustainable alternative. The?future scale up of this material would also seek touse waste streams, for example from the food?or drinks industry, to fuel the microbial-cellulose production.
What Suzanne started as a fashion project has now evolved into a biomaterials project. They are only just ?beginning to imagine what otheruses there might be for this material. Right now these clothes? areexperimental prototypes and not commercially available, and, as thematerial is still in?development. See: Susanne Lee on growing clothes