The BioCouture Innovation: Will Bacteria Rule Fashion's Future?

Sustainable consumer products, bio-facilities and an almost Ray Bradbury perspective on using science in unexpected and even mind-altering ways is slowly but surely emerging as a method for dealing with global changes and challenges. Radical issues call for radical solutions and that proverbial rabbit pulled out of that hat has become more and more sophisticated as the cold hand of technology permeates every aspect of our lives.

What is BioCouture?

Founded in 2003 by art director, Suzanne Lee, BioCouture is a company focused on creating sustainable consumer products by exploring how living organisms like yeast, fungi, algae and bacteria can be utilized to produce fabrics. This opens up an endless source of biomaterials that may well shape the future of both the fabric manufacturing industry and our environment. In Lee's own words: "Microbes are the factories of the future...There's a whole spectrum of organism that can grow material.


Fermenting Cellulose: Source: Cellulose: Source:


Who is  Suzanne Lee?

 Bio-Couture is a London-based  firm that is paving the way for the use of biomaterials in the fashion, sportswear and luxury clothing industries. Lee, a former senior research fellow at the School of Fashion & Textiles at Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design, is attracted to materials that are suited for compost and "can be thrown away like you would vegetable peelings." This is her second project involving biofabrics; the first was focused on the creation of fabric that looks like human skin! No, this is not a new treatment for a remake of that horror classic film, The House of Wax or others of that ilk. It is, rather, the vision of a scientist who believes that harnessing living organisms can lead to a symbiotic relationship with the human body, providing nourishment and possibly even monitoring for signs of disease.

In her own words: "...We will eventually move towards the material itself being living while you are wearing it, and having a direct relationship  to your whole body in this happy micro-biome environment and perhaps  diagnosing  and treating, nourishing in some way the body surface  and so becoming part of your well-being."


BIoCouture Skirt: Source: House of Radon-dezeen.comBIoCouture Skirt: Source: House of


Suzanne Lee is also the author of Fashioning The Future: Tomorrow's Wardrobe, which was published back in 2007. This book is the very first of its kind to explore the power of technology as it relates to the world of fashion. She states in that publication:

"Through an engagement with biology I am really excited  about how we can think about organisms like microbes as future factories. Most people know BioCouture for a series of garments that were grown using bacteria. So the fibers, the material itself and the formation of the garment have been done by a microbe rather than a plant."


 BIocouture shoe: Source: Dezeen.comBIocouture shoe: Source:


The En Vie Collection

Featuring a film entitled: Shoe Factory Tour, this one-of-a-kind exhbition transports the viewer on a journey centering around a future bio facility where the very first prototypes have been developed and custom shoes are designed and grown. The BioCouture shoe represents the quintessential biotech model and Lee's offerings include a range of jackets and shoes constructed from biomaterials and produced by bacteria in a vat of liquid with the end result of creating a material known as bacterial cellulose, which is similar in texture to leather.


BIo Bomber Jacket: Source: Dezeen.comBIo Bomber Jacket: Source:



BioCouture may well alter the scope of the fashion industry as we know it. Already apparel made from unexpected sources such as contaminated wine and other bacterial and chemical compounds have permeated the fashion landscape. While the use of living orgnisms to produce apparel and accessories may seem unpalatable to most people at first, remember the words of that old Cole Porter song of many years ago, Anything Goes.

 And it does.

 A final note on the importance of bacteria:

Support bacteria. Remember they are the only culture some people have.. ~ Anonymous