In the business of next-gen materials, there are a lot of world firsts. In a highly innovative and creative field, every company is looking for better and more progressive solutions. From mushroom handbags to wood-based shirts, every day brings something new.
PANGAIA is one of those companies that is always innovating. It innovates not to compete with other brands, as its Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Amanda Parkes told us in our latest podcast. Instead, PANGAIA innovates to compete with the materials and processes that rely on the systematic destruction of our planet.
This time, the materials science company has been working with Spiber to create “the world’s first biofabricated hoodie.” The PANGAIA LAB NXT GEN Hoodie is made with Spiber’s Brewed Protein fiber, a completely bio-based, biodegradable and vegan synthetic material.
Brewed Protein is made in the lab by growing microbes that have been inserted with synthesized DNA. The process is fascinating. The DNA is designed by analyzing different natural organisms. Then, the microbes are fermented and the sugars are broken down to produce the protein powders which are spun into fibers.
For this hoodie, 12 percent Brewed Protein fibers are mixed with 88 percent organic cotton to produce a material with a luxurious, ultra smooth feel. The resulting product is a relaxed-fitting, black hoodie which features PANGAIA’s distinctive text block, describing what the item is made of.
As the material is completely plant-based, there are no plastics that can break down and damage natural ecosystems. The manufacturing process consumes less energy and produces less waste than its petroleum-based counterparts.
Last year, Spiber raised $313 million USD and partnered with the likes of The North Face and the couture designer YUIMA NAKAZATO. And although Spiber’s fiber has been used here as a wool alternative, Brewed Protein can be adapted as an alternative to cashmere, fur, leather, silk and other petroleum-based materials.
This shows great promise for scalability in the future. In a recent article, we explored why the industry is still struggling with bio-based materials. Still in the early stages of development, we’re a little way off from mass adoption by mainstream brands and consumers.
Dr Parkes thinks Spiber’s fiber could be a trailblazer: “Spiber’s Brewed Protein fibers will disrupt the way we create fabrics through biofabrication and allow brands to transition away from carbon-polluting materials. The Spiber team shows a deep and impressive commitment to complex innovation; we both were eager to bring this capsule to life through PANGAIA Lab and show the cutting-edge technology is ready to scale.”
The hoodie marks the beginning of a multi-year agreement between the two companies. Kenji Higashi, Spiber Head of Business Development, Sales and Sustainability, is excited by the new relationship: “Not many brands have the capabilities and patience to harness a completely new material like Brewed Protein fiber to create a first-of-a-kind product. It has been a great experience working with the PANGAIA team, whose members brought world class technical expertise and scientific insight to our joint project, and whose mission to enable innovative solutions for a more sustainable world overlaps with our own.”
The PANGAIA LAB NXT GEN Hoodie is available now on PANGAIA.com in a limited run of 200.