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5 Fashion Innovations That Will Knock You Off Your Feet

5 Fashion Innovations That Will Knock You Off Your Feet

Future Fabrics Fair

Words: Kaja Grujic

Clothes made from textile materials produced in laboratories are no longer the distant future of fashion.

Walking into Future Fabrics Expo, London’s influential annual materials trade show, is like stepping into Willy Wonka’s whimsical chocolate factory. Among the more than 10,000 textiles on display are fabrics with the potential to repair leather, sequins made from mushrooms and materials that glow to the touch – and some of these textiles have already made it onto the runway.

Fashion and sustainability have a complicated history. But in recent years, as the industry has been forced to confront its impact on the planet, several designers have embraced their creative innovation and pioneered new ways of producing. A long-time advocate of leather alternatives, Stella McCartney introduced bags made from Bananatex, a material made from Abacâ bananas, in her Fall/Winter 2023 collection; while in 2023, Loewe collaborated with beLEAF to create textiles using an innovative natural tanning process that turns leaves into wearable leather.

Stella McCartney (left), Loewe Paula’s Ibiza 2023 (right)

In response to the industry’s overwhelming amount of textile waste, Coach unveiled recycled denim and flight jackets as part of its Coachtopia sub-brand, which launched in April 2023. Marine Serre recently unveiled a haute couture dress made from recycled embroidered sheets in her Spring/Summer 2025 collection, among a slew of upcycled designs.

Marine Serre Spring/Summer 25 (left), @coachtopia/Instagram (right)

As the fashion industry continues to find its place in the global sustainability movement, textile innovation is a worthy goal, given that a significant portion of fashion’s carbon footprint comes from the production and processing of materials. While high-fashion brands have joined the movement, the leaders in promoting sustainability have been mostly young designers and innovators. Their key weapon: the courage to challenge the status quo and combine disciplines to redefine what fashion can look like.

Future Fabrics Fair

THANK YOU we delve into five noteworthy and innovative fabrics you could see in your future wardrobe, and the designers behind them – straight from the front row of the Future Fabrics Expo.

1. LUCID LIFE by Christopher Bellamy

Imagine your dress glowing on the dance floor at your next party. Taking inspiration from the symbiotic relationship of corals, Lucid Life is a living material that literally glows to the touch. Instead of the material accidentally changing with daily wear, getting stained by food, or shrinking in the wash, think about what can happen when a material is designed to change Down You, growing and adapting to your body.

Biodesigner and engineer Christopher Ballamy has always been fascinated by living natural ecosystems and traveled to French Polynesia in search of new microorganisms that could create this living material. Inspired by the relationship between corals and algae, Ballamy enriched this new material with bioluminescent microalgae that live, store carbon and emit light for about six months. Through this project, the algae glow in response to movement and touch. This project combines the traditional wisdom of Polynesian craftsmen with cutting-edge science, resulting in a luminous swimsuit and necklace.

Christopher Ballamy

In exchange for its vibrant brilliance, its transience—like the cycles of fashion and seasons—its temporal quality may be what makes it all the more beautiful. Lucid Life is a luminous pioneer in the exploration of living materials that find homes in our closets.

Christopher Ballamy

2. ROOTFULL by Zena Holloway

Rootfull is a company that develops textiles by modifying the growth of wheatgrass roots to create functional fabrics. Grown in 3D-printed templates carved from beeswax, technology meets nature to guide the root as it grows. In just 12 days, the seeds germinate and the root bonds, creating a naturally woven structure.

“The idea that we can use nature’s natural processes to create ‘woven’ textiles is usually enough to stop people in their tracks,” explains Zena Holloway, founder of Rootfull THANK YOU“I use wheat seeds, which are just one of eleven thousand species of grass. The design possibilities with roots are endless and just waiting to be used.”

With this approach to material design, Rootfull combines different disciplines, creating a space where scientists, designers and nature can meet to create innovative fashion textiles.

Zena Holloway

3. DETOX BIOEMBELLISHMENT by CQ Studio

Detox Bioembellishment is a material that resembles traditional sequins, but instead of being made from petroleum-based microplastics, it is made from food waste and fungi. To create the material, fungi are first added to wastewater left over from textile dyeing. The remaining liquid is then cured to create this plastic-like material in shades of amber and ruby ​​red.

Originally trained as a fashion and textile designer, CQ Studios founder Cassie Quin was catapulted into the world of material innovation when she simply couldn’t find existing sustainable textiles while studying biodesign at Central Saint Martins in London. Quin tells THANK YOU that often “in the process of experimentation, ‘mistakes’ lead to new materials and possibilities.” By being curious and following nature’s cues, we learn that waste—the inevitable byproduct of the end of production—can also be part of its newfound beginnings.

Studio CQ

4. CUEMÁI by Alonso Hernández

Working with tequila distilleries, chemists and textile mills, Cuemái creates bio-based pigment and yarn from tequila waste (so now you can drink your margarita AND fabric made from the same blue agave!).

To create the yarn, agave leaves are crushed, extracted, crushed and sun-dried. These extracted fibers are then spun into yarn. Through a series of filtration techniques, the pigments are extracted to create vibrant, all-natural dyes from Vinasse, the final byproduct of tequila production.

As with many aspects of biodesign, collaboration is key to the success of this project. “Without the insights of scientists, tequila experts and engineers, I would not have understood many of the elements required to develop materials,” says Alonso Hernández, designer of Cuemái THANK YOU“This interdisciplinary approach allowed me to push the boundaries of what I thought was possible.”

CUEMÁI

5. BIOCOTERIE by Namita Bhatnagar

What if clothes were another part of your skincare routine? Material innovation Biocoterie, which initially began as a research project investigating medical applications of biomaterials, hopes to encourage dialogue about the purpose of materials in the fashion industry.

Imagine clothes that could literally heal your skin. By combining microalgae and bacterial cellulose, Biocoterie is investigating how to grow a material that can repair wounds. “There’s an (understandable) fear around microbes and how they interact with us,” says Biocoterie founder Namita Bhatnagar THANK YOU.But they are everywhere… just because their life cycles are not always visible around us, it does not mean they are not around us, pulling a huge weight.” This material development is in the speculative phase, but it presents an intriguing perspective on how to design with nature.

Biocoterie

From star-studded runways to small university labs, sustainability is an ever-evolving part of the fashion industry, and comes in many shapes and shades. Dancing across disciplines and cultures, these emerging designers show that fashion is still full of creativity, as designer Christopher Bellamy shares with us THANK YOU, The future of fashion is bright: “Design can become a bridge between traditional knowledge and science, a common language that allows these two disciplines to work together and create something new.”