From shroom to va-va-voom!
In yet another in textile industry instalment of ‘what weird crap will they think of next’ may I introduce to you the funky fungi fabric MycoTEX. Yep, you heard right, this is fabric made from fungi. The images you see here (sourced from here) of creeping fungi on petri dishes are a plant tissue culture scientists (which is me a year ago) worst enemy as they can feed off and/or outcompete and destroy plant samples as quickly as overnight. However most of us know that fungi and bacteria play a key part in the World’s health and wellbeing and in the case of MycoTEX these fast growers are being harnessed for their fabric application potential.
How the heck does this fungus stuff work?
According Aniela the researcher who has been working on MycoTEX this is the run down on how she has taken threads of fungus and turned them into something that could be wearable. Mycelium is a collection or ‘network’ of threads that make up the ‘root’ of a mushroom. These roots are good at absorbing moisture and providing insulation, things that mushrooms enjoy for growth and also things we like to look for in our fashion items. Seeing the potential that these insulating and absorbent properties could have in fashion applications Aniela set about finding ways to enhance textiles with fungus. Some of the areas researched were the possibility of making a textile from just mycelium, what other base materials or yarns it would work well with (specifically in regards to flexibility), if the mycelium can come ‘back to life’ after drying out and if it makes for a good compostable textile option (or composted the textile base it was grown on)
After lots of lab time there was a development with The Universiteit Utrecht that made ‘floating mats’ of Mycelium that could be used outside of the lab once dried (wet ones get can get yucky and contaminated) that Aniela found, when treated appropriately, were able to maintain flexibility. This is how the dress you see in these images came into being. Some of the advantages of this sort of fabric is that the garment can be built three-dimensionally and shaped whilst being made, fitting the wearer’s wishes. Making it possible to create mycelium patterns, to adjust the length of the garment or for example to add elements (e.g. sleeves). Allowing for growth of just the right amount of needed material, eliminating every potential leftover/waste during the making process. Upping the sustainability factor one more notch, the fungi dress can be composted when you are done with it.
If you love nerding-up on franken-textiles check out the following posts:
So what do you think? Yay or Nay on Fungi Fashion? It looks pretty exciting as a new textile option but it might be a long way off being found in our daily closet rotation just yet.
Would you wear fungi?