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It’s Alive! A New World of Living Textiles

Written by: Synzenbe

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In the world of fast fashion, items of clothing are not given very much respect. Most consumers have so much of it, that one single item simply isn’t assigned very much value. Without a high level of engagement in textiles, clothing waste becomes, for the most part, a painless act. Clothing is discarded when it is no longer in good condition, or simply no longer desired because it’s not in style. This means that the “life span” of a textile can be cut short arbitrarily. 

Most consumers simply don’t have a healthy relationship with their wardrobe.

The Clothing-to-Wearer Relationship

In any healthy relationship, but parties are treated with dignity and respect. Consumers don’t normally think of their clothing as another entity that deserves to be treated with kindness because their clothing is just another inanimate object. But what if people had a deeper, more meaningful engagement with their clothing? What if their clothing was actually… alive? Would this clothing-to-wearer relationship improve?

Designer Roya Aghighi was determined to find out.

“Clothing is the closest object to our body yet the only times we are conscious about it is at the beginning of the day when we choose what to wear or when we spill coffee on it,” Aghighi said in an article in Euronews. The level of consciousness people have of clothing has a lot to do with what material it is made out of, Aghighi argues. And the way people interact with the objects they use every day could have a revolutionary impact on the way they move through the world.

Introducing: Biogarmentry

“My approach to bio-design goes beyond only considering it as problem solving,” Roya Aghighi said in the same interview. In her approach, she considered how she could evaluate the design process, and manipulate it to change the wasteful habits of consumers.

Aghighi named her project “Vision of the Future” Her goal was to create garments that were created from a material that utilizes photosynthesis, the process plants use for growth. The designer worked with the Materials Experience Lab, as well as a group of scientists from the University of British Columbia. Together, they created a textile made from natural fiber-based fabrics, along with living photosynthetic cells.

The result: “living clothing.” The photosynthetic cells used in the garments are alive in such a way that they are said to “breathe,” purifying the air around them as they do so. 

Taking Good Care of Living Clothing

“Living” garments like these come with a unique set of care instructions; ones that Aghighi believes will change the way consumers think about, and treat, their clothes.

“In taking care of the current biotextile which is made out of algae, users need to be aware of the fact that they don’t need to wash their clothes,” Aghighi says “They could simply submerge the living textile into water when the textile requires to be washed which will provide the cells with necessary water.” Like all living things, the living clothing created by Aghighi needs water, space, and light to thrive.

Instead of throwing clothing in the washer, owners have to focus on meeting the basic needs of the new life they now wear. That requires an attitude shift.

“Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the clothes you are wearing right now are alive. With that thought, your interaction with your daily clothes would imminently change. Y/ou are less likely to throw your clothes in a dark closet or washing machine. IT could even make users more conscious about daily choices as wimple as where it is safe to sit, or if you knew your garment could feed off your sweat would that encourage you to  exercise more?” Aghighi believes, and rightly so, that the act of caretaking changes the way we see the world, and how we behave.

Emotional Attachment to Clothing

Aghighi believes that if biogramentry became more common, people would develop an emotional attachment to their clothing. She isn’t just talking about the nostalgia most people get when they see a well-worn t-shirt… she’s talking about something deeper.

Wearing an item of clothing that is alive creates an intimate relationship between clothing and its wearer.  Clothing that requires love and care and attention in order to survive requires an intentional awareness. Aghighi is determined to shift the perceptions of clothing consumers, making it “deeper” and “more holistic.”

Aghighi says, “In other words, biogarmentry aims to utilize humans’ emotional attachments to living creatures to bring the lost value and agency back to textiles and clothing consumption. It challenges our current relationship to clothing while acting as a catalyst for behavioral change.”

In other words, Aghighi hopes that as far as clothing is concerned, humans will think of themselves less as consumers, and more as caretakers.

This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is re-published with permission from synzenbe.com

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