Clothes that create energy, keep you safe and are even compostable!
By Heather Spohr
Traditionally, clothes have been the focus of the fashion world, but lately it’s how the clothes are made that’s most interesting. Like the 2014 Malibu—which combines striking style and aerodynamic design with advanced stop/start technology that helps you save gas* (the engine automatically shuts off when you stop and starts again when you release the brake pedal)—these amazing fashion innovations stand out like nothing you’ve ever seen before, with looks that do much more than just captivate.
The most common textile printing method, screen printing, may have roots that go back more than a thousand years, but it will likely become obsolete very soon thanks to modern computer technology. Digital printing, which applies prints to fabrics using ink-jet printers, is faster, cheaper and offers millions of creative options that were previously impossible. Yet its most promising benefits relate to the environment. Compared to screen printing, digital printing uses 95% less energy, 75% less water and produces just a fraction of overrun waste.
A number of bold designers are making runway-worthy fashions out of very unexpected materials like used water bottles, empty yogurt containers and discarded x-rays. In New York, for example, Peter Heron’s I Am Not a Virgin clothes (playfully named to allude to the fact that the materials are recycled) uses a process that breaks down recycled beer bottles into a yarn that is then woven into jeans. Virtually indistinguishable from traditionally made designs, clothes made out of recycled synthetics reduce our carbon footprint while pleasing even the most discriminating fashionistas.
Biocouture reduces our carbon footprint even more than recycled synthetics by growing clothes from bacteria. This may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but pioneering designer Suzanne Lee has found a way to combine bacteria, yeast and tea to make sheets of cellulose that can be shaped into clothing. Most impressively, these clothes can be composted when they grow old. Compostable clothes may not please fans of secondhand stores, but they’re very good news for our environment.
Kinetic energy is defined as “energy that a body makes by virtue of being in motion.” In the case of kinetic energy clothing, it’s the body of the person wearing these incredible clothes that creates energy. Though this technology is still in development, it has impressive possibilities for designers. Joggers running at night will be able to remain safe with illuminating LED lights on their backs. And soon we will even be able to charge our cell phones by wearing special shorts: Last month Vodafone, Europe’s largest mobile phone company, unveiled Power Shorts, apparel that charges your cell phone as you walk or dance. Still in the testing stage, Vodafone nevertheless plans to have this remarkable clothing on the market in the near future.
Safety enhanced clothes do more than just protect us from the elements; they protect us from other dangers, too. Plouf! has patented a groundbreaking sailing jacket that, in addition to being stylish and comfortable, is also buoyant enough to act as a lifejacket. Even more incredible is the bicycle helmet created by designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin. Worn like a collar around the neck, the helmet inflates like an air bag in the event of an accident, protecting the cyclist from harm.
In a similar spirit, the 2014 Malibu boasts 10 airbags**, including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger***—just one more indication that this fashion statement, like the ones above, has brains that match its beauty.
The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.
Heather Spohr blogs at the award-winning The Spohrs Are Multiplying.
*EPA-estimated MPG (city/highway): 2014 Malibu with 2.5L engine 25/36.
**Malibu Eco models built after June 2012.
***Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s
Manual for more information.
Photo ©Biocouture 2013