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Editor's pick product sustainability

Bolt Threads and Stella McCartney introduce mushroom leather handbag

Mylo leather by Bolt Threads
Mylo leather by Bolt Threads

Material startup Bolt Threads has introduced Mylo, a new leather material made from mycelium, the roots of a mushroom. For this textile innovation the company is continuing its work with designer Stella McCartney, who is launching a new style of the iconic Falabella handbag made from the innovation.

Bolt Threads has developed the patented leather by creating optimal growing conditions for mycelium cells to self-assemble into an animal leather-like material, meaning it can be produced in days rather than years.

The textile was developed in collaboration with Ecovative, a New York-based startup that had initially created the mushroom technology for packaging. It is not only sustainable from a raw material point of view, but can also be dyed with tea, which has long been a natural dyeing agent.

It’s the right time to show the world that we are more than just spider silk, Dan Widmaier, Bolt Threads’ co-founder and CEO, told us. Widmaier, who has a PhD in chemistry and chemical biology, is constantly developing things with his team in the company’s lab at a small scale, and leather and silk are just the beginning.

He refers to Bolt Threads as becoming a “platform” that can launch an infinite number of new materials inspired by the endless opportunities in nature.”There’s a huge ability to have an impact here,” he says, with relation to the change such new materials can make on sustainability and the environment. His tagline is “better materials for a better world”, which he refers to as critical for the globe’s growing population and increasing middle class.

The Stella McCartney Falabella bag made from Mylo leather by Bolt Threads
The Stella McCartney Falabella bag made from Mylo leather by Bolt Threads

The Stella McCartney handbag made from Mylo will be on display in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Fashioned from Nature” exhibit from April 21.  McCartney has no plans of putting the handbag on sale as yet, though her excitement towards investigating sustainable technologies is strong: “Once you take that technology and innovation and you marry it with luxury fashion and design and creativity, there’s no end to what magical madness you can create,” she told Forbes.

Bolt Threads’ own version of a Mylo leather handbag will be available for preorder in June.

This is Bolt Threads’ second material launch, having introduced Microsilk, a manmade spider silk produced in a lab in 2017. To showcase the material’s potential, the composition of which is meant to be stronger than steel but softer than a cloud, the startup launched a necktie and a hat. It followed that by introducing its partnership with McCartney via a dress made from the material that showcased the same level of fluidity and drapery as original silk. This was part of an exhibition at the MoMa in New York in October last year.

Want to know more? At this year’s SXSW, our chief intelligence officer Rachel Arthur spoke to CEO Widmaier on how his company’s innovations are driving the future of sustainable fashion for our TheCurrent Innovators podcast. 

Categories
Editor's pick product Startups sustainability technology

MOMA exhibition highlights biofabrications and new technologies as the future of fashion

The Stella McCartney x Bolt Threads dress on show at the MOMA
The Stella McCartney x Bolt Threads dress on show at the MOMA

The Museum of Modern Art’s first exhibition dedicated to fashion design since 1944 presents garments and accessories that have had a profound impact on global culture over the last century.

In “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, a total of 111 pieces span everything from the Little Black Dress and Levi’s 501 jeans, to the hoodie, the bikini, the stiletto and the Sari. About 30 of the items are also complemented by a new prototype, however – a commissioned or loaned piece inspired by advancements that signify where the industry is moving next.

These have been created by designers, artists, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers – those able to respond to the idea of these “indispensable items” with pioneering materials, approaches, and design revisions. Included is a t-shirt featuring the first lab-grown leather from bioengineering firm Modern Meadow; a dress woven from artificial spider silk by Bolt Threads marking a new partnership with designer Stella McCartney; and a new take on a customisable Breton shirt by 3D knitting company Unmade.

There’s also a fibre-optic Richard Nicoll dress on loan, created by wearable technology company XO, in partnership with Disney, as well as newly conceived versions of the pencil skirt, the biker jacket, the jumpsuit and more. Meanwhile, a wider zone in the exhibition devoted to new technologies and visions of the future, also features Issey Miyake’s A-POC and Pierre Cardin’s Cosmos Collection along with Gore-Tex, the leotard, and the Moon Boot.

Paola Antonelli, the MOMA’s Senior Curator for the Department of Architecture and Design, and its Director of Research and Development, shared her insights on the forward looking aspect of the exhibition and what it means for the future of fashion. Head over to Forbes to read the full interview.

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business digital snippets e-commerce product social media sustainability technology

What you missed: Amazon’s AI designer, sewing robots at Nike, AR iPhone apps

Inside the Grabit robots making Nikes
Inside the Grabit robots making Nikes

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • Amazon has developed an AI fashion designer [MIT]
  • A new t-shirt sewing robot can make as many shirts per hour as 17 factory workers [Quartz]
  • These robots are using static electricity to make Nikes (as pictured) [Bloomberg]
  • A preview of the first wave of AR apps coming to iPhones [Techcrunch]
  • In a Zara world, who orders custom clothing? [Racked]
  • What happened to wearables? [BoF]

BUSINESS
  • Matchesfashion.com sells majority stake to Apax after fierce bidding war [NY Times]
  • Making sense of Chanel’s secret filings [BoF]
  • Is Nordstrom the next acquisition target for Walmart or Amazon? [RetailDive]
  • North Korea factories humming with ‘Made in China’ clothes, traders say [Reuters]
  • Is counterfeiting actually good for fashion? [HighSnobiety]
  • C&A Foundation highlights ‘gaps to overcome for clean and circular fashion’ [Fashion United]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Maisie Williams will kick off new Twitter series for Converse [Creativity]
  • How Instagram and Snapchat are benefiting from Facebook’s declining teen and tween numbers [AdWeek]
  • Facebook furthers WhatsApp monetisation efforts with verified business pilot [The Drum]
  • Condé Nast and Facebook are debuting a virtual reality dating show [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Zalando turns festival into three-day live marketing campaign [BoF]
  • Donatella Versace works with eight creatives for new versus ads [WWD]
  • 40% of consumers want emails from brands to be less promotional and more informative [AdWeek]
  • In first-ever TV ad, Patagonia targets Trump administration [MediaPost]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • What is Amazon, really? [Quartz]
  • How Westfield is combating the Amazon threat with digital upgrades at its malls [Digiday]
  • Betting on brick-and-mortar: Alibaba’s billion-dollar retail experiment [Forbes]
  • H&M’s Arket encourages transparent shopping on its new e-commerce site [WGSN]
  • Uniqlo’s retail empire embarks on a digital revolution [Nikkei]
  • Farfetch Black & White partners with Certona to offer personalised e-commerce to luxury brands [The Industry]
  • Shopify’s e-commerce empire is growing in Amazon’s shadow [Bloomberg]
  • Voice search, 3D modelling and chatbots named as 2017’s most significant e-commerce trends [The Drum]

TECHNOLOGY
  • 11 tech leaders share the real truth about artificial intelligence (and what really matters) [Forbes]
  • How Bitcoin is making waves in the luxury market [CNN]
  • How blockchain could boost the fashion industry [BoF]
  • Walmart and Google partner to challenge Amazon’s Alexa [Retail Dive]
  • Google and Vogue are bringing voice-activated content from the magazine to home devices [AdWeek]
  • Latest Magic Leap patent shows off prototype AR glasses design [Techcrunch]
  • ‘Self-driving’ lorries to be tested on UK roads [BBC]

PRODUCT
  • Everlane’s quest to make the world’s most sustainable denim [Fast Company]
  • The zipper: the innovation that changed fashion forever [Bloomberg]
  • A new high-tech fabric could mean the end of bulky layers in the winter [Quartz]
  • Watch how Vans can now put any custom design on your shoes in under 15 minutes [Fast Company]
  • How RFID tags became trendy [Engadget]
  • Leather grown using biotechnology is about to hit the catwalk [The Economist]
  • These brands are teaming up on smart hang tags [Apparel Mag]
Categories
Editor's pick product Startups technology

In-depth with Modern Meadow: the start-up bioengineering leather in a lab

Modern Meadow
Modern Meadow

It’s one thing to say you’re working on the future of textiles, but it’s another altogether to be doing so with living cells.

That’s the premise of Modern Meadow, a biofabrication company growing animal-free leather in a lab. Until now it’s operated in the research and development space, but a recent $40 million Series B round of financing led by Horizons Ventures and Iconiq Capital, will enable it to now transition into manufacturing.

In a few years, that means we’ll be able to buy products that do indeed look and feel like leather, but are engineered from collagen protein instead. The result has the potential to have a significant impact on leather as a $100 billion raw material market; helping to satisfy increasing demand as well reduce the harm it currently has on both animals and the environment.

Head over to Forbes to read the full interview with Modern Meadow’s chief creative officer, Suzanne Lee, who talks about exactly what enhanced properties these leathers can have, the role sustainability plays in the need for this work and what the limitations are to get it to market.

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data digital snippets e-commerce mobile product social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Pokémon Go, McQueen’s DNA, luxury’s executive changes, AI, VR and more

McQueen pure human - digital snippets
Alexander McQueen’s DNA turned into leather in designer Tina Gorjanc’s Pure Human project

If there’s one thing that’s grabbed everyone’s attention this past fortnight, it has of course been Pokémon Go. The augmented reality mobile game has reportedly gained as many users as Uber and Tinder, topped Twitter’s daily users, and started seeing people spend more time with it than in Facebook. It also caused Nintendo’s share price to increase by more than $7bn.

We published a great piece looking at what retailers can learn from it in a broader location-marketing sense.  Also worth reading is this story tracking the retail invasion of Pokémons, via Racked, and another looking at why retailers should care about Pokémon’s forthcoming ads.

Beyond that, the news to know in the fashion, digital comms and technology space this week (and there’s a lot of it!), spans everything from an experiment with DNA in textile design to the plethora of changes at the helm of the industry’s luxury houses, the impact artificial intelligence might have on brands, not to mention how we’re faring with virtual reality so far…


  • Fashion that gets under the skin – designer creates leather prototypes grown from Alexander McQueen DNA (as pictured) [NY Times]

  • Luxury fashion: a year of big moves [The Industry]

  • Amazon Prime Day: Wow… but not yet a fashion must-buy [Trendwalk]

  • What Amazon could learn from Yoox Net-a-Porter, the “world’s biggest luxury fashion store” [Quartz]

  • Fashion apparel retailing in the age of artificial intelligence [WWD]

  • Luxury brands get off to an awkward start with virtual reality [Glossy]

  • Is a holographic fashion show for VR clothing the future? [The Creators Project]

  • The store of the future: physical retailers must stage experiences, embrace omnichannel and harness data [BoF]

  • 5 ways shoppers are using mobile to make purchase decisions, according to Google [Fashionista]

  • Sephora is driving mobile sales with Tinder-like features and digital mad libs [Ad Week]

  • Stores must learn to think like Facebook [BoF]

  • Warby Parker is offering Snapchat-exclusive sunglasses [Techcrunch]

  • Birchbox tests Snapchat for customer service – turns to revamped video and voice calling feature [Digiday]

  • Why advertisers are forking over big bucks for custom Snapchat lenses [Ad Week]

  • Snapchat is looking at a way to recognize objects in your snaps and serve you related ads [Business Insider]

  • New study says people are more likely to buy from brands that use virtual reality [Ad Week]

  • Luxury brands embrace digital, but still wary of programmatic [The Drum]

  • Using an algorithm to figure out what luxury customers really want [HBR]

  • Amazon is developing a 3D modelling system to solve online clothes shopping’s biggest problem [Quartz]

  • How the future of fit could spell the end of retail returns [Retail Dive]

  • Back to bricks and mortar: how e-commerce has embraced the real world [The Guardian]

  • Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet) [McKinsey]

  • Confessions of a fashion start-up founder: ‘Fashion tech is the Wild West’ [Glossy]

  • 3 need-to-know live streaming apps in China (and how bloggers & brands are using them) [WGSN]

  • Payments firm Klarna adds Lyst to its collection [Reuters]

  • How valuable is trend forecasting in the post-internet age? [NJAL]

  • These acrylic nails double as an Oyster Card [PSFK]
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Hermès taps into heritage and craftsmanship with digital launches

Hermès has launched a fun campaign through its Paris Mon Ami blog that engages with its fans while promoting the heritage of the company.

The ‘My Horse And I‘ initiative, encourages consumers to upload pictures of themselves with their favourite bangle or scarf alongside their equestrian best friend – be it hobby horse or real thing.

“Share your adventures, your friendships and your style,” reads the post dedicated to the search.

Meanwhile, the French luxury brand also has a microsite called Hearts and Crafts that provides an inside look at the making of its goods and those responsible for them.

10 employees are featured ranging from leather cutters to glass-makers, a jeweller and a colourist. Each one is profiled in a short video.

The site is based on the brand’s 48-minute feature film of the same name, created by Frédéric Laffont and Isabelle Dupuy-Charant. It was released in select theatres last year.