Mention of mushrooms conjure all sorts of images, but for Dutch textile designer Aniela Hoitink mushroom mycelium can be a course for fashion.
Among this year’s winners of The Global Change awards, Hoitink is taking part in an incubator program in New York this week. The crash course is made possible through Accenture, KTH Innovation of Sweden and the H&M Foundation. Other winners include Agraloop, which makes sustainable textiles from leftover crop harvests; Swerea, which separates cotton and polyester blends for a new textile fiber; Algalife, which transforms algae into eco-friendly dye; Resortecs, which creates a dissolvable thread and the Early Bird winner Tandem Repeat, which uses self-healing textiles to reduce garment waste.
Four years ago Hoitink started working with mycelium — mushroom roots, but it took two years to figure out a way to create a flexible material. The trick was to figure out how to avoid the brittleness that is a result of drying it. The second step was how to make materials from it without having a standard supply chain. Combined with 3-D technology, they’ve found a way to produce custom-made clothes out of this new natural fiber without the need to cut and sew. Once her designs are worn out, the garments are meant to be buried in the ground to decompose. “I thought it was an opportunity to look at a way we look at the production of textiles, and garments,” she said, adding that the first dress she developed two years ago generated a lot of interest.