Fashion Tech Lab showcases future fashion industry technology in Paris

Despite the impression of size created by the event room's mirror-panelled walls, the space at the Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris soon proved to be too small to contain the posse of fashion designers and industry VIPs, busy mingling and enjoying the launch of Fashion Tech Lab (FTL). Among them, François-Henri Pinault, Diane Von Furstenberg, Delphine and Antoine Arnault, Azzedine Alaia, Guram Gvasalia, Alber Elbaz, Jonathan Saunders, Jose Neves and Haider Hackerman, to name but a few.

All of them congregated on 2nd October, on the eve of the Paris Fashion Week’s last day, to fête the launch of the new initiative, whose goal is to provide financial backing for the development of alternative, sustainable technologies for the fashion industry.


Miroslava Duma, François-Henry Pinault and Stella McCartney at the launch of Fashion Tech Lab in Paris - Mathieu Guinebault

Seven showcases presented seven alternative technologies and processes applicable to the world of fashion. From Bionic yarns, derived from the plastic waste which pollutes the oceans, to the Worn Again recycling process which separates cotton from polymers, to Osomtex, a technology for transforming used fabrics into smooth yarns. Or Bolt Threads, a technology replicating spider silk on a large scale, and the mint-based anti-odour treatment called Mint Materials. The two most stunning technologies were undoubtedly Diamond Foundry, capable of generating pure diamonds using a plasma reactor, and Vibrolabs, which can 'cultivate' leather in a lab setting, starting from the DNA of bovines, crocodiles, ostrich and other animals.

The event's guests were welcomed by enthusiastic host Stella McCartney, later interviewed by FashionNetwork, who recently joined the board of directors of FTL. The designer was helping out Russian digital entrepreneur and fashion investor Miroslava Duma (founder of Buro 24/7, The Tot, Reformation and RewardStyle), the brains behind the initiative. According to Duma, such an exalted gathering was essential.

"Everybody must work together to make this transformation happen more quickly and smoothly, she told FashionNetwork. Because it will happen, with or without us. The question for industry professionals is simply whether they will be part of it or not. (...) There are people inventing new technological processes in nearly every country. And all FTL does is invest in new technology, and propel it towards the [fashion] industry."

This is what led FTL to invest, for example, in Orange Fiber, a company which, as its name indicates, generates fabrics from orange peel, and last spring was featured in a collaboration with Ferragamo.

“History is going in this direction"

“Clearly, some of the materials we are using today may disappear, or their use may be forbidden; our responsibility is to find smart alternatives for them, said François-Henri Pinault, CEO of French luxury giant Kering, talking to FashionNetwork . This is the role of major corporations. It is part and parcel of the work on new materials which has been done in the last few years. We are also working with some of the companies featured here."


FTL

“This is the future, enthused a few minutes later Antoine Arnault, co-CEO of Rimowa. I can already see some of the ways these technologies could be used in our industry. For example, creating leather from stem cells. If we could manage to obtain the same quality of leather without having to kill animals, it would be something extraordinary, revolutionary. We are open to all ideas. History is going in this direction. The day we'll find an alternative material, we'll use it with no qualms."

“It's brilliant, it's the bright side to what is happening to humanity, told us Diane von Furstenberg, also a member of FTL's board. We must be ready to recognise it. It's a time of total upheaval, something hard to accept and plan for, but into which we must plunge headlong. Designers too must be in on this. We must dare! “

“This means we are able leverage the future, via technology and innovation, to make a change. And frankly I cannot understand how designers can fail to be crazy about sustainability," said Stella McCartney, who believes that, besides the moral imperative, it is novelty value alone which ought to appeal to creatives, as she reiterated in her interview to FashionNetwork.

 

Translated by Nicola Mira

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