Sustainability is a cause that the Playtime community holds close to our heart. With the fashion industry as a large source of pollution, innovation and reimagining resources are great ways to reduce its impact. The textile sector has spent years researching new materials to decrease the impact of the fashion industry on our planet’s health, and we are starting to see these innovations used more and more in products. With their growing accessibility and applications, Playtime wanted to introduce you to some of the amazing new sources for fibers and textiles! Brands can gain inspiration for future collections and collaborations, while buyers can explore the new materials that may start being offered in their store!
Two companies are leading the way in textiles created from mushrooms, Mylo and MycoWorks. Both companies use mycelium, the sprawling, root like system of fungi that produce mushrooms, to make alternatives to animal-based leathers.
Mylo stems from the company Bolt Threads, where a team of scientists and engineers have developed a process to turn mycelium into a plant-based leather. They take the mycelial cells and grow them in vertical farming facilities, where they become an interconnected 3D network that is able to be processed, tanned, and dyed. Mylo’s facilities are 100% powered by renewable energy, they follow green chemistry principals, are certified bio-based, and verified vegan, ensuring a green process from start to finish. Backed by notable brands like Adidas, Lululemon, and Stella McCartney, Mylo is working to bring mycelium to the forefront with their fabric as soft and supple as animal-based leathers.
Artists Philip Ross and Sophia Wang came together to found MycoWorks, after Philip had spent years experimenting with mycelium in his artwork. They began by designing rigid mycelium materials to create interiors and structural designs before making a more flexible, leather-like material called Reishi™ Fine Mycelium. They developed a process to grow this alternative to premium leather in customizable sheets variable in thickness, surface features, and dimensions. The MycoWorks team has experimented with vegetable tanning and finishing processes adapted from the traditional leather industry, and have collaborated with Hermès to create the first product made with their Fine Mycelium.
Mycelium products are a great way for brands to sustainably add leather to their collections without compromising their values, and for buyers to show off the latest in textile innovation in their stores!
Coming together with Regenerate Fashion, the companies Ananas Anam and Bananatex have launched the “Fibral Material Alliance” as a way to gather companies that produce vegetable-based fibers in one space and revolutionize the textile industry. Both Ananas Anam and Bananatex use the leaves of plants to create fabrics.
Ananas Anam has developed Piñatex®, a textile made from the waste of pineapple leaf fibers that are a byproduct of pineapple harvests. The leaves used to be burned, but now they are transformed into a versatile textile that can be used for a variety of sectors, including fashion, accessories, and upholstery. These leaf fibers require no additional resources to produce and bring more work to farming communities, making them beneficial to both the environment and the people that live there. When the pineapples are harvested, long fibers are extracted from the leaves. These fibers are washed and dried, either naturally in the sun or in drying ovens, and become a felt-like material ready to be finished. Offered in a variety of finishes, Pinafelt can be colored with GOTS certified pigments, treated with a resin top coat to be water resistant, or heat pressed for metallic and performance materials. Incorporated into collections from brands like Hugo Boss, H&M, and Hilton Hotel Bankside already, Ananas Anam is turning this byproduct into appealing consumer products.
Bananatex is made exclusively from naturally grown Abacá banana plants in the Philippine highlands. This plant is self-sufficient, requires no pesticides, no additional water than what it receives naturally, and enhances biodiversity wherever it grows. Abacá plants grow inedible bananas, but their stalks can be harvested once a year, and fully regenerate to be harvested the next year. The leaves of the tree are left to act as a natural fertilizer, while the fibers are combed, sorted, and turned into a strong, durable, and soft textile that is lightweight and supple. Offered in natural or dyed colorways, Bananatex can become poplins, twills, or heavier fabrics ready to be turned into interiors, accessories, or shoes. They’ve had many collaborations, with brands like H&M and students completing diploma projects like Charlotta Åman, who developed Babybo as a portable baby nest made from biodegradable Bananatex.
These leafy solutions can be great additions to future collections for brands that become unique key items for buyers to add to their store’s offering.
There are many other intriguing fabrics and processes being developed by companies around the world, including spider-inspired silk made in labs, garments developed from the protein in expired milk, sneaker soles from dandelion rubber, and ways to dye fabrics using bacteria.
As part of the children’s fashion and lifestyle industry, it is important for us to work as a community to find renewable resources to create products for the children of today while safeguarding the environment for children tomorrow. By finding a variety of solutions for new textiles, we can avoid overusing any one source, ensuring the health and biodiversity of our world. Though many of these companies have been around for years, they have only begun to gain significant funding recently as consumers demand more sustainable products. With more revenue, they will be able to make their incredible alternatives more widely available for brands, allowing them to be more accessible for buyers to add to their stores to meet consumer demands.