There are few things that I love more than wine, science, and fashion. Recently, a collaboration between Donna Franklin, a contemporary textile artist, and Gary Cass, a scientist at the University of Western Australia, has resulted in beautiful fabrics made from wine and other alcoholic beverages. They are hoping their Micro’be’ material could revolutionize organic fashion.
To briefly outline the basic science– They used Acetobacter bacteria to ferment wine and other alcohols into fabrics. This fermentation resulted in cellulose fibrils. Cellulose, a polymer of glucose units, is simply a long chain of sugar. This research is not yet ready to be commercialized, but has some definite advantages and disadvantages.
One global research focus is to make everything more ‘green’. Creating and using materials that are environmentally friendly is a hot topic spanning many fields of science including chemistry and microbiology. However, making green materials isn’t limited to just science, other industries have been actively working toward this ubiquitous goal as well (i.e. automotive, textiles, etc.). These biodegradable, organic dresses produce their own color and structure. Therefore, manufacturing costs would be minimal due to lack of machinery and labor necessary to create the garment.
There are a few distinct disadvantages. Let’s just say it: the dress smells like a hangover. Stale alcohol is certainly one of the last scents I want to wear around all day. That being said if you come into work after a ‘late’ night out, then you can use the outfit as an excuse . Another disadvantage at this point in development is the material’s flexibility. Chemical trials are underway to increase the overall movement of this new material. Finally, the team is working on scaling the production to ensure its widespread availability.
This preliminary project is pretty fascinating and definitely something to keep up with. Check out their website for more details.