Traditionally, synthetic fibres are made from crude oil created with fossil fuels. These types of materials have a number of environmental drawbacks. For example, fossil fuels are a finite resource, and their extraction and manufacturing processes are both energy hungry and environmentally polluting. Material production using alternative, harvestable and renewable, feedstocks to create bioplastic fibres has been an area of innovation since the mid-1990s with the outdoor brand Patagonia at the forefront. Other companies continue to explore new options.

Bloom foam, as used in the Ultra 3 Bloom shoes (1), was the first sustainable alternative to synthetic ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam. It is made out of algae which is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet and can cause significant harm in waterways if allowed to spread. SeaCell, as used in the Calvin Klein Blazer (2) and trousers (3), is a lyocell material (see the Regenerate case for more information) derived from approximately 19% seaweed.


Alternatives to leather, which is made from cowhide, include materials derived from fruit and fungi. The NAE Vegan Shoes sneakers (4) have an upper made of Pinatex, which employs the otherwise unused pineapple leaves, with red details made of AppleSkin leather, which has a feedstock of the pulp left over from squeezing apples for juice. The Ashoka Paris black and orange card wallet (5) is made using a material created by Bolt Threads called Mylo. This material is predominately composed of mycelium, the root structure of fungi, with some lyocell and a water-based polyurethane finish for added strength and durability.


An alterative to silk can be derived from another juice byproduct, this time from the orange juice industry. The E. Marinella tie (6) is made in collaboration with Orange Fiber a company whose mission is to create circular fabrics from citrus waste from Italy to contribute to the reduction of the negative environmental impact of the textile industry. The ‘pastazzo’, the remains after orange juice production, accounts for 60% of the weight of the fruit and being acidic has a negative impact on the environment when it is disposed of en masse.