With Manchester’s rich heritage in the cotton industry I looked further into the history of Cottonopolis (the name given to Manchester during the peak of its cotton production) and the production of cotton as a crop. The more I researched into the production of a cotton t-shirt I realised that it’s a hugely polluting crop, using vast amounts of water in a world with a decreasing water supply. Equally it uses a huge amount of pesticide and herbicide, both of which are very damaging to the environment. Not only are there huge environmental implications with cotton production but also many social problems with child labour and sweat shops.
From this I started to look into alternative materials to cotton and found BioCouture (www.biocouture.co.uk/). BioCouture is a research project harnessing nature to propose a radical future fashion vision. The team are investigating the use of microbial-cellulose, grown in a laboratory, to produce clothing. Our ultimate goal is to literally grow a dress in a vat of liquid…
Suzanne Lee is Director of the project and a Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She is collaborating with scientists to unite design with cutting edge bio and nano-technologies.
On paper this new product, these grow your own clothes have many benefits over cotton and can perhaps deliver a new manufacturing process to the once hectic Manchester. Providing a new fabric to put Manchester back on the map.