The Future of Fashion: Growing Your Own Clothes

A sustainable and innovative recipe to making fabric out of organisms

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Suzanne Lee is a fashion designer who stands in a category of her own. Her design consultancy firm Biocouture melds biology and fashion, producing stunning clothes and shoes that are not only biodegradable, but can be composted and discarded in the same way as vegetable peelings.

The clothes are grown out of organisms like bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae, mixing different elements together that then ferment and produce a leather-like material. Her current recipe for home-grown textiles includes green tea, sugar, a few microbes and around ten days time, as she details in her fascinating TED talk.

Swatches of vegetable leather can be cut and sewn conventionally or using the wet material to mold it around a 3-D shape. As the brew evaporates, the bacterial cellulose knits itself together, forming seams.

At the time of her TED talk, Lee was still working out how to make the bio-fabric water resistant, to prevent it from evaporating when confronted with water. While there is still a long road ahead, the innovation behind Biocouture is astounding, not to mention the sustainability factor. Growing clothes from organisms removes the need for heavy machinery, toxic dyes, and excessive manpower, revolutionizing a new way to make the fashion industry environmentally-friendly. 

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