This week is one of the highlights of my year, the Future Fabrics Expo in London! With family in the UK and a factory in Portugal, I always time my trips to coincide with this exhibition which really lifts the spirits. The best thing is that every year gets better and better as innovations pile upon innovations, and as I left this year I walked past a mannequin wearing a Stella McCartney dress made from the bio-sequins I'd loved at last year's show. See the below before/after shot! Miracles in the making.
A key focus this year was the use of waste food materials rather than actual food materials - corn starch, soy beans etc - to ensure we aren't cannibalising the food supply but rather resourcefully utilising all the value in our 'waste' products.
A fascinating stand was the Dyers Circle, a resource that provides natural dyes based on specific geographic regions and their waste products, which allows for a myriad of colours. The below are natural dyes from France using grape skins from a wine making region, and chestnut from another. These by-products normally become waste but here they become dyes, how wonderful! Dyers circle advises on potential sources of natural dyes that are abundant in all geographic regions.
Some of the other inspiring ideas I came across were:
Plastic made from by-products of the brewing industry:
Embellishments made from saline brine, a by-product from desalination plants:
A dress made from non-woven hemp and linen:
And lots of wonderful micellar/mushroom products including this bag:
This year there were also a lot of leather alternatives, buty also a real shift from makers of 'alternative' materials to stop the consumer viewing them this way, and instead to view them as an entirely different material, which of course they are, so they are viewed in their own right. This makes a lot of sense where bio materials replacing natural ones always come under scrutiny when they shouldn't necessarily be trying to be something else!
I also met up with two of my suppliers, Santi from OCC cotton in Spain who made the cotton for our new nursing bras. We talked about how his 3 growing regions are moving towards, or fully, very close to regenerative farming techniques now. Also Marita from Ecological Textiles in the Netherlands, a developer and supplier of sustainable materials that I have worked with from 2017, when she was the only global supplier of natural rubber textile. I made a long pilgrimage by plane and train to visit her in her Roermond office to show her I was a serious customer! Now we are good friends and she supplies the organic weave we us in in our bra bands.
So all in all, another fabulous visit full of wonder, respect and amazement! As ever I've some potential new options for our products which I hope I will be able to integrate in time.