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Editor's pick product sustainability

Puma and MIT exhibit examines how biodesign can enhance performance

Puma x MIT Adaptive Packaging

Puma has teamed up with the MIT Design Lab to explore how using living organisms can enhance a person’s performance when wearing sportswear.

Four initial experiments that derived from that study were exhibited at this year’s Milan Design Week, which took place in Italy last week.

Through this partnership, which initiated a little over a year ago, Puma and MIT have been conducting research on how biodesign – the practice of using living materials such as algae or mycelium – can bring the advances in science and biotechnologies to the consumer’s daily lives through sports products. For the MIT Design Lab, its long term aim is to make athletic gear that is “highly adaptable, personalized, and future-proof”.

The four initial projects include a Breathing Shoe, which is a biologically active shoe that enables personalised ventilation by growing its own air passageways to keep the foot cool; Deep Learning Insoles, which collate realtime biofeedback by using organisms to measure chemical phenomena that indicates things like fatigue; Carbon Eaters, which is a microbially-active t-shirt that responds to its environment to change its appearance and inform the wearer about air quality; and Adaptive Packaging, a biologically programmable material that can change its shape and structure to become a new type of alive, biodegradable and adaptive packaging.

Puma x MIT Carbon Eaters
Puma x MIT Carbon Eaters

The exhibition was powered by a desktop bio-prototyping platform by Biorealize, which brings the capabilities of a biology wetlab into a single piece of hardware that enables the user to design, culture and test organisms.

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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. 

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product sustainability

Gant is latest brand to launch products made from recycled plastics

Gant Beacons Project
Gant Beacons Project

Lifestyle brand Gant is launching a line of shirts made out of recycled polyester-fibres gathered from the ocean under its new “Gant Beacons Project”.

The collection is the latest initiative by the brand in its ongoing commitment to build a more sustainable business. It follows numerous others from the world of fashion and sport introducing recycled plastics into their products, led by the likes of adidas working with Parley for the Oceans.

In this case, Gant employed Mediterranean fishermen to help gather and remove some of the estimated 165 million tons of plastic floating in the sea. This was then used to produce an upcycled polyester in partnership with fiber brand Seaquel.

As Brian Grevy, CMO at Gant, said: “Through the Gant Beacons Project, we launched a completely new process for creating beautiful products via a conscious, sustainable approach, which will grow and evolve with time. We do everything we can to ensure we take responsibility and do what we can to make the planet even better because the ocean belongs to everyone after all.”

A statement on the website, adds: “We believe this conscious, sustainable approach to designing beautiful products is the future of good business.”

To make the resulting Tech Prep line shirts comfortable for the wearer, Gant used a cotton blend and classic weaving, as well as adding breathability, wicking and quick-drying properties. The shirt buttons and packaging were made from recycled plastics as well.

The shirts, which are now available online, come in a variety of styles and colors for both men and women.