The nice way to talk about Suzanne Lee’s garments is to say that they’re “biocouture” — biodegradable clothes that required no animal products in the making. The grosser to way to talk about them is to say that they’re made of bacteria excretion.
You can start with something like green tea, you add sugar as a nutrient and then you introduce another culture which is a living organism and that basically feeds on the sugar and the green tea and it spins threads of cellulose.
Basically, these are Kombucha clothes. Those cellulose threads gather at the surface of the pool of tea, and Lee can harvest them in thick, goopy sheets that look a little bit like giant slabs of pressed tofu. It’s pretty gross if you think too hard about it, but, then again, so is the idea that we wear silk aka dried caterpillar saliva.
Here’s what the process looks like:
It’s all cool in theory but Lee admits that “There are serious problems if the clothes are left in damp conditions as the material will absorb water and turn into a jelly mush.” So, they’re clothes that dissolve in the rain? That’s perfect for weird porn or living in the desert, but kind of impractical for anything else.
- BioCulture: Grow Your Own Clothes , Humans Invent
Get Grist in your inbox