The fashion designer Suzanne Lee’s venture Biocouture [now called Biofabricate] is just one example of a rapidly expanding network of laboratories and studios exploring the use of biotextiles for textile manufacturing. In the Biocouture laboratory, bacterial cellulose is grown in a solution of sweetened tea, and during the fermentation process these cells can be modified to create textiles. Sample products from this process include the “bio-biker jacket,” a biotextile send-up of the classic leather biker jacket.[i] Lee:
There is a burgeoning global movement of makers and innovators who want to ‘hack’ materials in the same way we’ve seen open source software and hardware. Biocouture is building an open innovation resource to enable collaboration within the global biological materials community in order to rapidly advance innovations never previously imagined. Starting with microbial cellulose, which can be grown in a bucket and used to create a wide variety of biodegradable homewares and fashion accessories, Biocouture will provide recipes, methods, documentation and educational tools to enable widespread use and knowledge sharing globally. The big idea is to precipitate the development of many different products according to local innovation and need.[ii]
The potential for organically produced materials that can be locally sourced, grown, and harvested indicates potential for a radical break from the ecologically disastrous linear model of textile and garment production within globalized supply chains.
[i] Dezeen, “Suzanne Lee: Eco Textile Fashion,” November 13, 2011, https://www.designboom.com/design/suzanne-lee-eco-textile-fashion/.
[ii] Quoted in Launch, “Suzanne Lee: Biocouture,” accessed February 4, 2021, https://www.launch.org/innovators/suzanne-lee/.
see also: https://www.biofabricate.co/