|F-ABRIC will biodegrade completely if thrown on the compost. Photograph: Oliver Nanzig/Freitag|
|Freitag Broken Twill in industrial green. Photograph: Lukas Wassmann/Freitag|
The fact that it is biodegradable does not make the fabric any less hard-wearing, says one of the founders, Daniel Freitag. “There is a misunderstanding over what biodegradability means. The whole biodegradation process needs certain conditions. So it won’t disappear while you are wearing it; it won’t disappear in your washing machine.” There are industrial composting facilities, but Freitag tested its material in a household compost bin and the workwear was broken down completely within three months.
Freitag is not the only company looking to microorganisms for inspiration. German design studio, Blond & Bieber is using microalgae as a sustainable fabric dye. The pair have dubbed their project Algaemy, a textile printer that produces its own, fast-growing pigment.
Essi Johanna Glomb, head of design at Blond & Bieber, says: “The colours for dyes are extremely toxic and really harm the people working with them and also nature. The pigments that we are using are made of microalgae, so that means it’s a totally natural resource. It doesn’t harm nature; we can grow it ourselves, so you don’t have any over-production; and this material is already there and is unused.”
Perhaps most intriguingly, the colours change dramatically over time, from pink to bright orange, for example, or green to blue.
The Algaemy collection uses algae-based fabric dye. Photograph: Lukas Olfe/Blond & Bieber
Algaemy is still in development, with large-scale commercial production some way off. Innovations in sustainable fabric production and processing are entering the mainstream, however, with more and more mills developing sustainable methods.