Sustainable Fashion Initiatives – Seaweed fashion with AlgiKnit. The fashion industry plays a significant role in the current environmental issues making the media headlines every day. As the second most polluting industry in the world, the fashion industry affects the planet through unsustainable material sourcing and poisonous manufacturing processes.
However, a new generation of ‘biomimetic’ materials could be part of the answer. AlgiKnit is a biomaterials research group located in New York City, comprising a team of scientists and designers that have joined forces to launch a new class of sustainable materials for a cleaner fashion industry.
Sustainable Fashion Initiatives – Goodbye Cotton, Hello Seaweed
The team at AlgiKnit believes that ‘biology is the future of fashion’ and only with through the adoption of innovative eco-materials and leather alternatives we can solve some of the problems faced by the fashion industry.
The key ingredient at AlgiKnit is kelp, a type of seaweed that grows all over the world. From kelp, the team extracts a particular biopolymer which is then treated to create compostable textiles, ready for production.
By adding specific types of salts to the seaweed base, AlgiKnit experts extract the alginate biopolymer. The resulted material is then dried into a powder and fused into yarns that are converted into several types of textiles and fabrics.
Sustainable Fashion Initiatives – Protect The Planet
There are many benefits in using kelp as the main ingredient in creating textiles for the fashion industry. For example, kelp is inexpensive to farm, and some species of kelp grow faster than bamboo, the quickest-growing terrestrial plant. Also, farming kelp near seaside cities can improve the quality of polluted waters.
During its sprouting, kelp absorbs and removes carbon dioxide, phosphorous, and nitrogen thus enhancing the quality of local waters.
However, before the project reaches mainstream adoption, the team atAlgiKnit has to resolve a few more challenges such as how to make the fibre strong and flexible enough to work with the industrial knitting machines.
Sustainable Fashion Initiatives – Winners Of “Sustainable Planet”
“The process is similar to that of synthetic materials, where one long continuous strand results in the manufacturing process. We think that the filaments can be cut into short fibres or plied, and then spun to increase the strength of the fibre,” says the co-founder of AlgiKnit, Tessa Callaghan.
“Then, the next goal would be giving the AlgiKnit yarn full compatibility with the existing fibre and textile infrastructure, and increase the material’s acceptance across the fashion industry”, Callaghan added.
The innovative startup won the “sustainable planet” category at the ‘National Geographic’s Chasing Genius’ competition thanks to Asta Skocir‘s submission, AlgiKnit founder and associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
Sustainable Fashion Initiatives – The Pioneer
AstaSkocir has over twenty-five years of experience in the fashion industry having worked for renowned retailers and high-end designers such as Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez, TSE, Perry Ellis, Liz Claiborne, Episode Europe & EQIQ, White & Warren, Emme, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
AlgiKnit’s initiative of designing the next generation of textiles harvested from seaweed rather than the classic resource-intensive cotton and fossil fuel-based polymers will help the industry’s future clothing and footwear avoid the landfills.
Seaweed garments will be decomposing in the back of the garden, to feed the ecosystem and nurture the planet rather than destroy it. However, we wonder what do you, the consumer of fashion, think? Would you buy a jumper or t-shirt made from seaweed? Let us know in the comments below.