Within the current fashion and textiles system, the embroidery industry is limited by unsustainable material options and a lack of innovation. Shimmering beads and sequins are industrially made from petroleum-based plastic or synthetic resins. Their use and disposal impose a huge environmental problem and contribute largely to the micro-plastic issue that planet Earth is currently facing. Looking into consumer patterns on a mass scale, it is impractical for embroidery to be recycled from its base fabric, consequently, these tiny plastic components are sitting in landfill and entering our environment through various waste streams.
Designer, Elissa Brunato, points out that it is the optimal moment to re-envision the origin of materials that are currently petroleum-derived to initiate a more circular textile economy.
Bio Iridescent Sequin finds an answer in the research of bio-technologies that are capable of harnessing naturally abundant materials, to create shimmering structural colours. By extracting the crystalline form of cellulose, the wood-originating matter can imitate the alluring visual aesthetics of beetle wings. Unlike most existing dyes, structural colour does not fade in sunlight or over time. The material remains vibrant in colour, lightweight and as strong as plastic, yet is compostable and nontoxic.
Working alongside Material Scientists Hjalmar Granberg and Tiffany Abitbol from the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Elissa Brunato created sequins for embroidery, that use wood’s ability to form structures that refract light. In this way, it is possible for this Bio Iridescent Sequin to shimmer naturally without added chemicals or pigments. It is an entirely new way to approach colour and finishes within the Fashion and Textiles Industry.
Re-imagining the landscape of available materials that we have on this earth can allow for safer and more environmentally sustainable approaches to shimmering colour. These approaches have the potential to outshine the previous options in a way that is more forward thinking and innovative.
Image credit Elissa Brunato[Sample of hexagon shaped Bio Iridescent Sequin created in the lab]
Image credit Elissa Brunato[An embroidered sample of Bio Iridescent Sequins, showing the sequins natural shimmering colours]
Image credit Elissa Brunato[Embroidering a sample with lab-made Bio Iridescent Sequins]