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Pulp-It Paper Fashion

Can we improve a material’s desirability and biodegradability with new finishes?

Made from a new bio-based nonwoven material co-developed by RISE & UAL for Mistra Future Fashion, this experimental paper-textile is composed of unbleached & unrefined softwood paper pulp from sustainable forests, PLA (corn starch) staple fibres and micro-fibrillated cellulose. The main attribute of this material is its thermoplastic quality enabling many processes not usually possible with paper.

Kay Politowicz and Kate Goldsworthy worked closely with Hjalmar Granberg (material scientist) from RISE to develop the paper from the fibre up. The brief was to make a wearable paper which felt like ‘cashmere’ and could be easily recovered at the end of life either through domestic paper-recycling or industrial-composting. No small task!

The use phase of this material is intentionally short. It is designed to be worn around 5 times without laundry or maintenance and then returned for recovery & reprocessing. It is in the finishing stages of production where aesthetic, tactile and functional features can be added. Researchers developed a large body of research to explore multiple ‘expressions’ for the base material including; a heat process to fix the fibres ready for further finishes, ‘crushing’ to soften the surface, natural dyes and bio-based waterproofing agents, and various laser and welding processes. The garments are constructed using a Pfaff Ultrasonic machine as an alternative to traditional stitched seams.

At the end of the short wear period, the user returns the top for industrial composting (into C02, water & ‘biomass’). This is the beginning of the next material cycle.

A women wearing a blue shirt with a laser cut pattern down the middle
A series of symbols in a circles with arrows connecting them