Wageningen University & Research started a collaboration with ArtEZ University of the Arts and State of Fashion to explore new kinds of materials as well as new business models that are needed in order to transition to a more circular economy. The results of these projects will be presented at the exhibition of state of fashion 2018 | searching for the new luxury in Arnhem, June 2018.
I’m invited to participate in this research project, quite exciting since it is not always easy to connect to scientist in your research. Last year, I collaborated with business science students from Wageningen University to come up with business modeling and consumer perception of ‘living skin materials’.
It is a time in which we are fundamentally rethinking the value and meaning of fashion and productdesign and its relevance in a broader context of society. There are many urgent environmental and social problems in the fashion industry, and we need to move towards a new fashion reality with less waste and less pollution, more equality, well-being, and inclusivity. Sustainability and the circular economy are important themes to help fashion move forward, and ‘circular fashion’ is a recent phenomenon. More and more designers are actively exploring the possibilities of more sustainable bio-based materials (e.g. materials from mycelium, colours from bacteria, textiles from algae) for applications in the fields of fashion, textile and design. It is increasingly important to design with a purpose (Brismar 2015) and to envision a more responsible and ethical engagement with material objects that surround our bodies and living spaces. The world needs imagination and experimentation in order to develop a new kind of aesthetics and connectivity (Margolin 2007). Not just in the design of new textiles, materials and artefacts, but also in the crafting of radical new business models and forms of organization (King 2013).
Together with fashion designer Aniela Hoitink and Iris Houthoff, lecturer Bioprocess Engineering at WUR, we are working on the Living Skin theme. Aniela and Iris are both working with mycelium, the root network of the mushroom. I’m participating with bacterial leather. Clothing is often seen as a second skin, as a means to visually express one’s identity. The personalisation of textiles and clothing is essential, since having a unique identity is highly valued in the field of fashion. Shaping one’s skin, or shaping one’s second skin, and/or letting new materials grow on the physical body, could be viewed as the ultimate form of personalisation. This is essential to take into account when designing new business models for the field of fashion.
Based on our research question, WUR connects us through a matching system with a biotech/engineer student who will execute a literature research. Parallel to the research, we are working on developing and improving our textiles.
I will keep you updated about the research 🙂