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Fashion for Good handbook: What are biomaterials and how can the fashion industry use them?

By Simone Preuss


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Organic, bio-based, biosynthetic - the terms for so-called biomaterials vary so greatly that not only clothing brands and retailers get confused, but also many consumers. That is why the global sustainability initiative Fashion for Good, together with the platform for biomaterials and their manufacturers, Biofabricate, has published a handbook specifically for the fashion industry that lists the different materials and breaks down how they are made, what they contain and how they differ.

“This report provides the first comprehensive review of biomaterial technologies for fashion. By collating key learnings and insights from leading industry experts from both biotech and fashion, the report serves as a unifying and foundational reference for change and innovation across the supply chain,” says Fashion for Good.

The report, titled “Understanding ‘bio’ material Innovations: a primer for the fashion industry”, includes interviews with over 30 industry experts, ranging from established industry giants like Adidas and Kering to leading start-ups like AMSilk, Bolt Threads, Modern Meadow, MycoWorks and Spiber, who provide their insights of the biofabrication landscape and share lessons for scaling disruptive biotech innovations.

The breadth of interviews covers all stages of market readiness as well as the steps from roadmap to commercialisation, what makes a successful partnership, impact considerations and what the future looks like in this field so that brands and innovators new to it can benefit from the experiences of these industry experts.

The detailed report defines terms such as biomaterial, biodesign, bio-based and biosynthesis and illustrates with clear examples how different commonly used materials such as synthetic materials, leather and cotton are produced. It also addresses the impact of each material and the opportunities at the end of its life time to provide sustainable solutions to the fashion industry.

“Biomaterials are already being implemented by the fashion industry but until now we have lacked the tools to understand them. As fashion and other industries partner with biotechnology we need to adopt a shared language, along with collaborative tools for transparency, to grow the healthy materials we all seek,” comments Suzanne Lee, co-author of the report and CEO of Biofabricate.

The full report can be downloaded for free from the Fashion for Good website.

Images: “Understanding ‘Bio’material Innovations - a Primer for the Fashion Industry” / Fashion for Good; Biofabricate

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