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Milk fibre is a sustainable textile made from casein, the primary protein in dairy milk. The casein for milk fibre is extracted from spoiled and surplus milk that would otherwise be wasted. This innovative fibre boasts many favourable characteristics such as its silk-like texture and its temperature regulating, antibacterial and hypoallergenic qualities. However, as a standalone material, milk fibre has the tendency to shrink and wrinkle easily. It also currently requires nearly 100 gallons of milk discard to produce 3 pounds of milk fibre. As a result, many clothing options utilising milk fibre are combined with additional textiles such as cotton, wool or rayon.

The Milk fibre jumper (1), composed of 60% MicroModal and 40% milk fibre was produced as part of Purotatto’s autumn/winter 2021 collection and is a great example of the unique qualities milk fibre brings to the fashion industry. The smooth fibres can be tightly woven in order to create a silk effect and the lightweight material emanates a feeling of luxury and comfort. Casein plastic has always been praised for its ability to take on colours and dyes well and milk fibre is no different in this regard. Newly spun, milk fibre is white with a soft sheen (2). However, once dyed, the fibre can take on any range of colours as seen by the milk fibre jersey samples (3-5). These samples are composed of organic cotton and Qmilk fibre, a patented milk fibre created by Anke Domaske as an alternative for individuals with fabric and material sensitivities. It is currently the only natural fibre with thermo-bonding properties which allows other textiles to adhere to the milk fibres through heat rather than using synthetic and chemical binders.

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Current milk fibre production utilises excess dairy milk that has spoiled and is destined for discard without placing additional production demands on the industry. However, worldwide consumption of dairy milk has declined in the last decade due to raising costs, leading to less production and less excess. This reduction in the availability of dairy milk discard may impact the future use of this fibre.

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