BioCouture: Growing a wardrobe from bacteria


BioCouture’s founder, Suzanne Lee, is a senior research fellow at the School of Fashion & Textiles at Central Saint Martins in London. Suzanne has created clothing by using a bathtub, some yeast, bacteria, green tea and sugar.

From this microbial soup, fibers begin to sprout and propagate, eventually resulting in thin, wet sheets of bacterial cellulose that can be molded to a dress form. As the sheets dry out, overlapping edges “felt” together to become fused seams. When all moisture has evaporated, the fibers develop a tight-knit, papyrus-like surface that can be bleached or stained with fruit and vegetable dyes such as turmeric, indigo, and beetroot.

Currently the BioCouture textile is not suitable for everyday wear as if it gets wet, it will absorb any moisture it comes into contact with and will start biodegrading on the spot. But if BioCouture’s future isn’t for fashion there is an opportunity for this type of textile to be used in object, cars and possibly even housing.

Watch Suzanne’s TED talk below.

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