Fashion’s green future of seaweed coats and mushroom shoes

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From making algae-sequin dresses, dyeing clothes with bacteria to planting trackable pigments in cotton, an emerging tide of technological innovations offers the fashion industry a chance to clean up its woeful environmental record.

Change is urgently needed, since the industry consumes 93 billion cubic metres of water per year, dumps 500,000 tonnes of plastic microfibres into the ocean, and accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The growing demands for change have generated ingenious responses, such as New York designer Charlotte McCurdy’s seaweed raincoat.

The shimmering algae-plastic she concocted in a lab made for a striking (and carbon-free) garment, even more so when she teamed up with fashion designer Phillip Lim to make a sequin dress.

They are unlikely to show up in department stores. She sees them more as a way to demonstrate that decarbonised clothes are possible.

“I’m not trying to monetise it. I just want to plant a seed,” she told AFP. “Material development is so slow and it’s so hard to compete with cellphone apps for funding. Frankly, I take climate change seriously and I don’t have time,” said McCurdy, whose focus now is on forming an innovation and outreach hub.

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