London-based BioCouture has chosen to develop a unique niche in the advanced textiles marketplace. The company grows sustainable materials from renewable or waste resources, transforming microbes into haute couture. Their unique, low-impact fermentation process creates a biodegradable material that can be used to create a variety of home products, garments and fashion accessories.
According to the company’s website, it is “working in the now, near and far future [to] help brands imagine their biodesigned future.” From microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and algae to cellulose, chitin and protein fibers like silk, it is “exploring nature’s sustainable materials for future consumer products.” The company’s clients bridge the worlds of biomaterial innovators, and fashion and sports luxury brands.
Company founder Suzanne Lee had previously served as a senior research fellow in fashion and textiles at Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts, London, U.K. The company began first as a research project for Lee.
Eco-fashion website Ecouterre.com explains how Lee’s living material was grown in a bathtub as a combination of yeast, bacteria and sweetened green tea. Fibers sprout and propagate, which results in thin sheets of cellulose that can be molded. Pieces can be fused together and seams formed as the sheets dry, creating a garment, or another product. When it wears out, it can simply be tossed in the compost pile.
The BioCouture team has created successful prototypes and has received recognition for its innovation.