Innovation That Matters

Steinarsdóttir has made a range of translucent, gelatinous garments | Photo source Valdís Steinarsdóttir

Zero-waste fashion created from flexible gel

Fashion & Beauty

An Icelandic designer has developed a technique for creating clothing out of a flexible gel that can be re-liquified and re-used for a completely circular process

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Spotted: In an attempt to improve sustainability in the fashion industry, designers have been experimenting with a wide variety of new and unusual materials, such as bioplastics, hair and mushrooms. Now, Icelandic designer Valdís Steinarsdóttir, who previously created horsehair slippers and biodegradable packaging for meat made out of the skin of the animal itself, has developed a range of translucent, gelatinous garments.

Steinarsdóttir creates a flexible gel by mixing gelatin or agar (a vegan gelling agent derived from red algae) agents with water, natural dyes and sugar alcohol. The gel is then poured into a mould in the shape of the finished garment. The moulds are imprinted with different patterns so that the texture is transferred onto the pieces. The material is left to cure and solidify for around a day, before being unmoulded. It is then ready to wear — no stitching needed.

When the wearer gets tired of the garment, instead of throwing it away, it can be re-liquified and remoulded into a new garment – generating no waste, as long as you don’t mind wearing plastic-like clothing. However, while the resulting material may feel synthetic, it is actually completely natural. So, when the material has reached the end of its usability, it can be left to biodegrade.

To further reduce waste, the moulds themselves were also designed to be adaptable and reusable. The designer explained: “The mould used to form the clothing is modifiable so you can adjust the size and shape of the clothing you are making. I think of the mould like a puzzle, so you can take out or add pieces to it.”

The fashion industry has finally become aware of the amount of waste generated by our addiction to fast fashion. The result is an increasing number of innovations aimed at taming this waste in some way. Recent ideas covered here at Springwise have included uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles and luxury fashion made entirely from deadstock fabrics.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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