As far as brand synergy goes, it’s hard to think of a better example than the bond between PANGAIA and Natural Fiber Welding. For starters, both are laser-focused on innovation – the former refers to itself as a “materials science brand” and the latter a “material science innovation company.” Both, too, are serial collaborators: NFW’s technology was used in Stella McCartney’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection earlier this year and PANGAIA capped off 2022 by connecting with Timberland.
With all of that in mind, their coming together – as they have done before and likely will again – just makes sense. The parallels between them are clear. And so, too, are the possibilities unlocked by their collaboration.
That PANGAIA should find itself the first brand to use MIRUM® – NFW’s world-leading leather alternative – as the basis for apparel, then, should only come as a surprise in the sense that no-one beat them to it.
In fact, NFW Vice President Oihana Elizalde recalls a time that someone else came close: “NFW did explore earlier collaborations on the apparel space with MCQ and released some concept garments but those earlier MIRUM® versions were still not ready for prime time and full industrialization for the apparel industry.”
But not, of course, close enough. And thus, the PANGAIA Air Gilet became the firstborn.
Combining two industry-leading innovations, the Air Gilet uses PANGAIA’s own FLWRDWN™ technology – which, being exactly what it sounds like, is cruelty and petrochemical free – to fill and pad the MIRUM® exterior, creating a piece of clothing both luxurious and lightweight whilst maintaining a sense of genuine cool-weather functionality.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that this is not your run-of-the-mill MIRUM®, if such a thing exists, but rather a “reformulated and thinner, leather-like version” of the plant-based and plastic-free material. A version more suited to the kind of flexibility that apparel requires.
“The clothing market has been challenging for next generation leather-alternative materials, which have been mostly used for accessories and footwear,” explains Elizalde, who doubles as VP of MIRUM® specifically. “In order to expand the use of MIRUM® for clothing, we worked on a new version that is lightweight, flexible and durable.”
Putting aside some of the brands’ share values, though, what makes MIRUM® – particularly when you consider the product was reworked for this release – the right material base for the Air Gilet?
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“MIRUM® is unique in its ability to deliver functionality, durability, and aesthetic beauty without relying on petrochemical or synthetic inputs,” Elizalde offers over email, following up to add that, “[It’s also] the only scalable leather alternative designed to meet the needs of the global apparel industry and to return safely to the earth at the end of its useful life without any detriment to quality or durability.”
All of which, as far as answers go, is pretty clear-cut.
As always with projects like this one, it comes down to questions of impact – what change can be affected by two brands with the technical know-how and the commercial infrastructure to do so, as well the shared value systems to want to make it happen.
“Both teams are working towards the same end goal, to leave the planet a better place. We both focus on material innovations that are reimagining the way the fashion industry will move forward,” Elizalde tells FVV, asked about the two brands’ shared ways of thinking and of working. “NFW is pioneering circular, low carbon and intrinsically safe materials, by offering a whole ecosystem of plastic free, high performance and scalable next-generation materials making the partnership with PANGAIA a natural fit.”
In the official press release for the Air Gilet, PANGAIA’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Amanda Parkes, echoes that sentiment. “We are thinking holistically about fabrication to enable a next generation modality for transformation – from ingredients to processes to end of life of a garment. As always, NFW continues to be an ideal partner committed to this mission, working to bring to reality our shared vision of a petri-chemical free fashion industry.”
All of which continues to add up. For both PANGAIA – which has a clear vision for the application of next-gen and alternative materials – and for NFW, with the technical expertise and the ability to focus on research and production. The only real question that remains, then, is why – of the many potential uses – did they choose a gilet as the first fashion port of call?
“Both teams are bold, driven and passionate, with the shared mission to create better and cleaner,” Elizalde adds by way of a final thought on the collaboration. “The sleek vest design of the Air Gilete clearly showcases this. No Animals. No Plastics. All Nature.”
You can’t argue with that. And, besides, what were you expecting: MIRUM® trousers?
Limited to one per customer for the purposes of reducing production-level impact, the PANGAIA Air Gilet, made with Natural Fiber Welding’s MIRUM® material technology is available now, directly from the materials science brand’s website, priced at $800 USD (or £625 GBP).