Bio Iridescent Sequin
Within the current fashion and textiles system, the embroidery industry is limited by unsustainable material options. Beads and sequins are industrially made from low cost petroleum-derived plastic and consequently have become a ubiquitous commodity of our throwaway society. Sequins, loved for their shiny effects contain toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. They are leaking into the environment through manufacture sites, garment factories, consumer use and ultimately their end of life disposal. Looking into consumer patterns on a mass scale, it is unfortunately also impractical for sequins to be recycled from the base fabric. Consequently, these tiny plastic components impose a huge environmental problem and contribute largely to microplastic pollution.
The Bio Iridescent Sequin manifests as a holistic alternative to the hazardous plastic sequin. Made entirely from cellulose, the most abundant plant-based polymer which is present in all plants, the material’s origin and compostable nature form a biological circle. Cellulose is a highly renewable, abundant and carbon-sequestering raw material providing functional, economic and environmental benefits.
Inspired by the way colourful beetle and butterfly wings shimmer iridescently and nevertheless are a part of naturally occurring biological lifecycles, these sequins gives rise to colourful effects by means of their inherent cellulosic structure. Light hitting this structure is reflected into vibrant, glittering colours, a phenomenon also known as ‘structural colouration’. In this way, the Bio Iridescent Sequin is free of petrochemicals, metals or pigments and becomes a non-toxic and colourfast alternative.
This Bio Iridescent Sequin presents a major step for the fashion industry to transition towards the renewable economy, providing a healthier and more environmentally sustainable approach to shimmering colouration whilst not compromising on aesthetics. It reimagines the fashion industry’s material landscape through use of renewable materials such as cellulose and innovates the preconceived aesthetics of ‘Sustainable Fashion’ to an identity that is more telling of the times we live in.
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COLLABORATORS: Tiffany Abitbol, Senior Researcher, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. Hjalmar Granberg, Scientific Leader within Biobased Electronics, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. PROJECT MENTOR: Claire Bergkamp, Worldwide Sustainability & Innovation Director, Stella McCartney.