Fashion’s Interest in Alternative Fabrics Keeps Growing

In depth conversation with Modern Meadow, leather alternative
By Astrid Wendlandt.

High-end fashion and sportswear brands are taking a growing interest in recycled and alternative fabrics made from unusual materials like mushrooms, oranges and even proteins inspired by spider-web DNA — but not just out of concern for the environment. They are recognizing that these cool materials of tomorrow could be something people want to buy today.

Over the next 12 months, brands are expected to announce partnerships with businesses that have figured out ways to make leather without cows, silk without worms, fur without animals and fabrics from recycled waste. Already this year, Salvatore Ferragamo has been selling scarves made of orange fibers while Stella McCartney produced two outfits made with the spider-inspired silk.

Ms. McCartney, a vegan designer who was a relatively lone fashion voice in the field of sustainable fabrics until recent years, provided a golden dress of the laboratory-made silk for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “Item: Is Fashion Modern?” She also presented a chocolate-brown bodysuit and trousers backstage at her spring 2018 show last month during Paris Fashion Week.

“They have not completely perfected it but it is a silk; it is literally a silk but it is a slightly different texture than the silk we normally use,” said Claire Bergkamp, head of sustainability and ethical trade at the Stella McCartney brand, adding that it had not finished testing the fiber for all of its possible applications. She said the brand, which has signed a long-term partnership agreement with Bolt Threads, the California company that developed the Microsilk material, expected to start selling clothing made with it in the next year or two.

Read more at The New York Times.

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