Quite remarkably I have found myself becoming more interested in fashion. So why is it, after nearly 50 years of being very happy in my jeans and T-shirt/jumper combinations (depending on the weather), has this happened? Well, it is not the clothes per se… it is the materials.
Having recently met a start-up company making biodegradable sequins (and learned quite how many of those tiny plastic circles end up in the ocean), I found myself thinking more generally about the amount of petrochemical-derived products in our clothes. Reassuringly, however, the world of fashion is already onto this problem. Today, I read about a New York based company, TomTex, who make faux leather and suede using waste mushrooms or seafood waste, i.e. shrimp shell! The materials are therefore entirely made from organic bio-based materials, which otherwise would be thrown away, and do not undergo chemically-intensive processes, such as tanning. It seems the materials may also be moulded, or even 3D printed to create animal leather-style patterns.
Their most recent PCT application has not yet published, and it will be interesting to see how it progresses before Patent Offices, where “technical effect” is critical. This technology is ironic in a way since it seems likely the “technical effect” sought is greater similarity to the natural animal products it seeks to replace, itself being a different natural product, rather than a petrochemical-based polymer. A full circle indeed.