Fermented Fashion: Wearable Tech Garments Smell Like a Hangover

Gary Cass, a scientific technician at the University of Western Australia, working together with a group of scientists and contemporary textile artist, Donna Franklin, got the idea to create 'cellulose clothing' when he noticed an odd skin-like layer forming over a vat of contaminated wine.  Known as the Micro'be project, living microbes create micro-fibers of cellulose that feels like wet mud but oddly dries to the consistency of cotton, fitting like a 'second skin.' The red wine dress illustrated below represents an alternative method of making garments and the utilization of a new and different textile technology.


Drawings for Red Wine Dress: Source: Bioalloy.orgDrawings for Red Wine Dress: Source: Bioalloy.org


The creation of cellulose clothing

Every part of this dress is derived entirely  from wine, resulting in a material comprised of micro-fibers and cellulose that grows and forms itself without a single stitch. According to Cass, there's only one problem and that is the unwanted production of vinegar as an end result of the spoilage (acetobacter), which permeates the material, making it smell like "the morning after the night before."In a recent interview, Cass stated that "as the Micro'be garments are more environmentally friendly than genetically-engineered cotton plants, the wearer must consider how much smell they are willing to withstand to save the planet!"


Side View:Red Wine Dress: Source: Ecouterre.comSide View:Red Wine Dress: Source: Ecouterre.com


Fashion that begins with a bottle of very bad wine

The team of reserachers creates this amazing amalgam of science and design by removing the fermented material during the early stages of its smelly process and while it is in sheet form. This is usually over the course of several days at the end of which a "skin" forms over the wine. It is then fashioned into apparel of some sort; it can be a vest, dress or even a shirt or blouse. The end product retains a textured, somewhat mottled look to it, with a range of opacity from completely opaque to translucent. Different colors can be created by using diverse wines; red reserved for more ruby hues and white wine or even beer for clearer tones.


Research team of Micro'be Project: Source: FDIM.comResearch team of Micro'be Project: Source: FDIM.com


Advantages of fermented fashion

This material has several advantages over other synthetic fabrics. For one, it is gentler to the enviornment and completely biodegradable. Due to the streamlined production process, it is cheap and easy to manufacture. These factors are very attractive to clothing designers who are always seeking breaks in overhead costs. In addition, the fabric is grown rather than woven or knit, whch automatically reduces the amount of labor usually associated with textile manufacturing. The material eliminates the need for sewing as it can be engineered on a form and created seamlessly!


fermented fashion Vest: Source: Ecouterre.comfermented fashion Vest: Source: Ecouterre.com



Fermented fashion may have begun as a simple project in an Australian laboratory, but its results with woven materials have redefined the landscape of the sustainable fashion industry. The researchers at Bioalloy have changed the venue for the fashion runway, making the Micro'be garment a refreshment that walks along the runway instead of one being served with or without ice. Fermented fashion ruptures the frontiers of conventional dress-making and textile technologies.

It truly is a brave, new (and freshly fermented) world!

Final thoughts about wine and its many wondrous uses:

I cook with wine and sometimes I even add it to the food.~ W.C. Fields, circa 1930s.

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