We've heard red wine can benefit your health, but how about your closet? Researchers at The University of Western Australia have just discovered a way to make the beverage into clothing. The process is a lot easier than you'd think: the fabric actually creates itself without any weaving. Talk about futuristic fashion!
Scientist Gary Cass was inspired to create cellulose garments when he noticed a skin-like rubbery layer covering a vat of wine that was contaminated with Acetobacter bacteria (don't worry--it's non-hazardous and non-pathogenic). He worked together with artist Donna Franklin and used the bacteria to transform alcohol into a cellulose fabric by pouring and wrapping it against a mold or human body. The resulting material clings to the body and is entirely seamless. The duo then successfully created fermented fashion made of red wine, white wine, and beers like Guinness, which all retain their natural odor and color. Apparently the fabric feels like sludge while it's wet and forming, but once it's dry the fitted material acts like a second skin. Since the clothing is made with living microbes, the creators have named the fabric Micro'be'.
Wine is made into an actual garment on a mold. Photo courtesy of bioalloy.orgWine is made into an actual garment on a mold. Photo courtesy of bioalloy.orgThe creators are first to admit there are some flaws to their design. The fabric lacks flexibility--clearly a big problem. How would you take these items on and off? How would they wear? Another dilemma: wearers may not enjoy smelling like an alcoholic beverage all day long. Cass and Franklin are currently working on these issues to make the fabric more commercial, and they're optimistic about their experimentation.
Even with these issues resolved, Micro'be' garments may take some getting used to. (We feel the fleshy appearance of red wine fabric looks like Lady Gaga's famous meat dress!) But there are many advantages to using the unique textile. The garments require no sewing, which means less labor and low production costs. Micro'be' is also eco-friendly, organic, and biodegradable. So while we don't see this material taking over the fashion industry just yet, we do think Cass and Franklin are on to something.