Artificial and fake?
That is, Big Diamond companies such as DeBeers have always controlled the mines and the industry. Change is a threat to their business model. So for the last 20 years, they have spent a lot of effort labeling lab-grown diamonds as ‘artificial’ and ‘fake’. (Sound familiar?)
But the writing is on the wall. DeBeers has launched a lab-grown diamond collection for fashion jewelry. Signet, the largest US jewelry retailer, now also sells lab-ground diamonds alongside traditionally mined diamonds.
Fabric of future
There are decades of research and practice behind the emergence of lab-created diamonds. The same can be said of the fabrics used to make clothes.
Back in 2015, Erin Smith, an artist, grew a wedding dress from mycelium, the thread-like fibers that hold mushrooms together.
Now that kind of technology is reaching mass scale, as the answer to environmental and ethical problems in the fashion and textile industries.
The UN has reported the fashion industry is responsible for 20 percent of global wastewater, and 10 percent of global carbon emissions. That’s more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Cotton farming uses a quarter of all insecticides.
But with production moving to the lab, these ecological issues are vastly reduced—as are the concerns surrounding hazardous working conditions.
Reshaping fashion’s footprint
The Future Tech Lab has helped establish 150 new start-ups and over 350 new lab-grown products and technologies to ‘reshape fashion’s footprint’.
For vegans and plant-based fashionistas, one of Future Tech Lab’s companies may hold the key to wearing silk again—this time, lab-grown rather than from silkworms.
Fashion innovator Bolt Threads has launched a beauty company, Eighteen B, that uses bioengineered and lab-grown silk protein. It’s a key ingredient for clothes and beauty products, including moisturizers.
Bolt Threads are also the company behind an ‘unleather’ called Mylo (marketed as ‘All of the Leather; None of the Animal’) which is already being used by adidas, lululemon, and Stella McCartney.
A mushrooming industry
Piñatex is a leather alternative from pineapple leaves. Italian-based VEGEA is making leather from wine! (from its waste grape skins, seeds, and stalks.) And Modern Meadow is using collagen from yeast instead of from animals to make vegan leather. It really is a mushrooming industry (sorry!).