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Reducing food waste is one of the biggest concerns on the planet but for the fashion industry, it is an opportunity for innovation. This article explores four raw materials made of food waste, from which beautiful, eco-friendly fashion fabrics are created. 

Words By Mayra Quispe Trejo


Food waste, a public problem 

 According to the FAO, world hunger is still rising, while one third of all food produced globally goes to waste every year. Unsurprisingly, this extremely important issue has been included in the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.


This is a public concern that seems so difficult to control that it has become a call for action. Indeed, this situation did not go unnoticed by the fashion industry. Designers and scientifics have seen it as an opportunity to create new technologies to produce fashion fabrics and effectively reduce food waste. 


Fashion fabric production and revolutionary findings of raw materials

 Producing environmentally friendly fabrics is crucial for a more sustainable fashion industry. In the search for raw materials that can help circularity and reduce environmental impact, scientists and designers have come up with interesting findings.

What would you say if there was a possibility to wear shoes made of apples? Or to carry a nice purse made of roasted coffee grounds? Does it not sound exquisitely revolutionary?


Here we have four original food waste materials that are used to produce incredible fashion fabrics.

1.- Fruits

 Fruitleather Rotterdam, a Dutch company founded by graduated designers from the Kooning Academie, has worked on fruit waste and transformed it into fashionable leather. They came up with this idea when realizing that the Tuesday and Saturday markets in the Netherlands were a big source of fruit waste. Some vendors would throw fruits that ‘do not look good’ in the bins. Under those circumstances, they conceived the idea of drying fruit waste to make an eco-friendly and free-animal cruelty leather.

2.- Coffee

S.Café, created by the Tawainese company Singtex, is a new technology that uses coffee grounds to generate fashion fabrics. This idea came when the founders, Jason Chen and Amy Lai, were at a coffee house and saw someone collecting coffee grounds that turned out to be used in a deodorant company. They asked themselves if this could also be used in the fashion industry and developed a highly skilled technique. It consists of using most roasted coffee grounds after been thrown away, putting them in a significantly low temperature with a high level of pressure until this becomes a yarn, then mixing with recycled polyester. As a result, the Syntex patented process ends with a beautiful, sustainable fabric ready to be used. The final material has efficient attributes such as odor control, fast drying and UV protection.

3.- Potatoes

Chip[s] board, created by Rowan Minkley and Robert Nicoll, is a company that uses potato peels, which normally are thrown to the bins, dries and transforms them into bioplastic used for creating buttons and frame glasses. This company teamed up with one of the biggest manufacturers of frozen potatoes, McCain, in order to collect potato waste from them. 

“Circular Economy should be the starting point when designing new products and materials.”

Rowan Minkley, CEO & co-founder

This new bioplastic named Parblex is a great example of how collaboration between the fashion industry and other different industries can be beneficial for the environment and take us closer to a circular system.

 4.- Wine production

Vegea is an italian company that uses waste discarded during the wine production such as grape marc, composed of grape skins, stalks and seeds, to make sustainable fabrics, mostly leather. It all began when Gianpiero Tessitore, now founder and CEO of the company, was working in furniture designs and had a concern about the raw materials used to produce the textiles. He started a research project with an industrial chemist, Francesco Merlino, and both came up with the formula, creating Vegea in 2016. The fabric can be found in a vast variety of colours, dimensions and weight, making the products customizable according to your needs.

Furthermore, they showed an incredible sustainable collection during the Marni Fashion Week 2020 and have started collaborations with Serapian and Le Coq Sportif.

These four novel ideas are examples of how it is possible to walk towards sustainability in the fashion industry. In that way, circularity cannot further be seen as an utopian goal but rather a common objective that can be achieved with creativity and collaboration. Are you ready to take your closet into the next level and fill it with sustainable fabrics?

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