The Grass is Always Greener: Biocouture

An innovative approach to textile technology is unfolding with this technique that harnesses nature’s forces.
“BioCouture is a research project harnessing nature to propose a radical future fashion vision. We are investigating the use of microbial-cellulose, grown in a laboratory, to produce clothing. Our ultimate goal is to literally grow a dress in a vat of liquid…The material is nearest in feel to a vegetable leather and, like your vegetable peelings, it can be safely composted when you no longer want it.”

Suzanne Lee is Director of the project and a Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She is collaborating with scientists to unite design with cutting edge bio and nano-technologies.

BioCouture is investigating the use of microbes to grow a textile biomaterial. Certain bacteria will spin microfibrils of pure cellulose during fermentation which form a dense layer that can be harvested and dried. To a sugary green tea solution they add a mixed culture of bacterial cellulose, yeasts and other microorganisms to produce a flexible cellulose mat. The bacteria feed on the sugar and spin fine threads of cellulose. As these start to stick together they form a skin on the liquids surface. After two to three weeks, when it is approximately 1.5cm thick, they remove the cellulose skin from the growth bath. They can then either use it wet to mold onto a 3D form, like a dress shape, or dry it flat and then cut and sew it into a garment.
Lee is the author of ‘Fashioning The Future: tomorrow’s wardrobe’ published by Thames & Hudson.http://www.biocouture.co.uk/



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Dimple Dash: Turbospeed Lycra Suit from Nike

Utilizing the aerodynamic properties of the humble golf ball, Nike’s engineers are pioneering this innovative tracksuit that reportedly shaves off micro seconds from performances. .023 seconds to be exact. That would be the possible equivalent of a higher placing when one talks of sprinting, so that is something very interesting to consider. Relying on the principle that explains the convex dimpled pattern found on a golf ball. These help balls travel further as they create low pressure turbulence in the boundary layer on the wind-facing side of the ball as it glides through the air, creating less drag behind the ball. Nike is calling them, “surface architectures”. panels are added to the areas that create most resistance such as the arms and legs. The result is also visually sleek and intimidating.


Minimalist Design: Nike Flyknit Series


NIKE has come out with various innovations this past week, one of which is the astonishingly minimal series, FLYKNIT, utilizing the most homespun of concepts: CROCHET.
Not your ordinary needle and thread, this is a micro-engineered upper utilizing resistant yet pliable material ideal for continual wear. Four years in the R+D phase, it is a masterful innovation in minimalist footwear, not quite as reductionist as the Swiss protection sock but certainly perhaps more practical. The single layer construction whittles the weight down to just 34 grams for the upper for a total of 160 for the entire shoe! Now that’s FLY.

Barefoot in the Park: Swiss Protection Sock

On the heels (excuse the pun) of the barefoot trend such as Vibrams 5-fingers shoes come the Swiss Protection sock developed with Kevlar (of bullet proof vest origins) and laminated with PVC for further protection. Not for everyone but possibly the solution for a variety of water sports and such. Running on tacks and glass is probably not recommended.
It brings new meaning to casual and “socks with sandals” notoriety and may become as annoying as the ubiquitous Croc but comfort is obviously the new black. Enjoy.
See more at:Swiss Barefoot Co.


Apocalypse 101: Blizzard Blanket

REFLEXCELL is a unique material that with its triple ply construction and use of reflective foil material offers TWICE the warmth-to-weight ratio of goose down! The construction is also elastic due to the crimping and thus contours to the body therefore optimizing its warming effect. Too bad it doesn’t feel as cozy as down but when the chips are done and you’re in Survivor mode, this is definitely the way to go. Besides, it comes in fun shades like optimal orange (visibility) and army green (camouflage) alongside spacy silver.
Following exhaustive in-house testing and trials performed by the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, the Blizzard Survival Blanket has been endorsed by the US Army Medical Center Directorate of Combat and Doctrine Development and is the only blanket used to train Army medics in the treatment of hypothermia.
Don’t leave home without it…
More at BLIZZARDSURVIVAL


Rumplestilskin: The Art of Spinning Gold


True luxury has only one color – gold. A nanometer-thin layer of pure gold now lends ties and pocket handkerchiefs that authentic gold sheen, thanks to a new Empa-developed process. The yarn, which is coated using a high-tech plasma process, is soft and easy to weave. It is also washing machine compatible. A limited number of gold ties will be placed on the market before Christmas, making a truly exclusive present. Further fashion accessories will follow in 2012.
Caption: Tie, bow-tie and pocket handkerchief made of high-tech gold fabric. Plating: 8 grams of 24 carat pure gold for 7500 Swiss Francs.

Gold radiates with a violet hue, at least when it is sprayed onto a surface atom by atom, as can be seen by looking into a plasma coating plant when in operation. This particular plant, which is about as large as a household refrigerator, can be found on the premises of the Tersuisse spinning mill in Emmen. Inside the apparatus a piece of gold is bombarded with fast moving argon ions which knock atoms off the metal surface. These gold atoms fly off and land on a polyester fiber which is slowly pulled through the machine. This is the beginning of the production process which for the first time in the world creates a textile material permanently coated with a durable layer of gold. The precious metal remains attached to the fiber even when it is rolled, kinked, woven in a loom and given a final wash.

The culmination of 10 years of research work
The textile specialists at Empa in St Gallen had been researching for ten years to find a method of finely dividing titanium, aluminium, steel, copper and silver and then allowing these powdered metals in atomic form to rain onto polyester fibers. Originally the project aimed to create silver coated fibers, for which there were ready markets. Silver coated fibers possess an antibacterial effect, something which is of interest to sock manufacturers. In addition fashion designers were seeking durable silver coated textiles. And furthermore, silver conducts electricity extremely well, making the Empa-developed fiber eminently suitable for use in various sensors and as an antistatic filter material for industrial applications.
Sooner or later the project partners had the idea that what was possible with silver might also work with gold, so in January 2010 they began work on the “Gold Fiber Project”. Nowadays production in the coating plant has reached a stable level. The first kilometer was generated in the summer of 2011 and in 2012 production is expected to increase further. Further processing of the fiber is completed by two project partners, the Weisbrod-Zuerrer AG spinning mill in Hausen am Albis and the embroidery firm Jakob Schlaepfer in St. Gallen.
The Jakob Schlaepfer company, embroiderers and manufacturers of decorative textiles, will also use the gold yarn for items in its Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture collection.

Silica nanoparticles make wool even better

By Darren QuickThe silica nanoparticle coating changes the surface of the wool to make it more water abso...

Already regarded as a “wonder fabric” for its lightness, softness, warmth even when wet, and other qualities, scientists from China say they have been able to improve on the natural properties of wool. They say their discovery could give wool a “brain,” placing it among other “smart” fabrics that shake off wrinkles, shrinkage and “breathe” to release perspiration.

Wool’s natural water-repellency also acts as a barrier to enhanced features such as anti-wrinkle, anti-shrinkage finishing and dyeing. This property also hinders its ability to absorb moisture and makes wool garments feel sweaty.

Although scientists have developed treatments that make wool more hydrophilic, or water-absorbing, they may not last long, may damage the fabric, and are not environmentally-friendly.

By coating the wool with an ultrathin silica layer the scientists found they were able to make the wool more water-absorbing without the problems associated with existing treatments. The coating is made from silica nanoparticles 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. The particles altered both the surface roughness and surface energy of the fiber and endowed the wool fabrics with excellent water absorption. The new layer does not affect wool’s color or texture and can withstand dry cleaning, the scientists note.

The study, “Fabricating Superhydrophilic Wool Fabrics,” detailing the scientists’ research appears in ACS’ bi-weekly journal, Langmuir.