Leather, fruit peel and dresses of mold: alternatives for textiles on arrival

The Circular Fashion Lab experiments with vegetable peelings, fungi and hemp as raw materials for textiles. So they want a sustainable, circular solution for the polluting industry.

Mode of fruit peel? Soon it might be reality © istock

Leather shoes made from vegetable peelings, dresses of fungi. In the Circular Fashion Lab in Wageningen, sustainable raw materials, developed for the textile industry. That sector, after oil, the most polluting industry in the world.


Sustainability is the keyword for the future.

Also, the fashion industry can no longer wriggle out of: sustainability is the keyword for the future. In the Circular Fashion Lab at the University of Wageningen (WUR), players are from different branches of the industry are brought together – from business and materiaalkundigen to designers and waste processors. They seek not so much to alternatives for textiles, such as organic cotton, or to circularity for this sector.

“After oil and textiles the most polluting industry,” says Kim Poldner, the coordinator of Circular Fashion Lab. In the lab work for researchers, students and designers to clean, durable clothing.

Kledingverkoop doubled

The kledingverkoop doubled in fifteen years to more than 100 billion pieces in 2015. At the same time carry consumers their clothes less often. More than 70 percent of the clothes are ultimately incinerated or landfilled instead of recycled. “If the fashion industry circular to be it is really better to products to be recycled,” says Jan van Dam, biomaterialendeskundige at WUR.


The kledingverkoop doubled in fifteen years to more than 100 billion pieces in 2015.

For clothing produce, manufacturers use new raw materials, mainly plastics and cotton. For the cultivation of cotton is much water and fertilizer is needed. All in all, the CO2 emissions of the fashion industry the same as all international flights and maritime transport together.

Micro plastics

“After earlier efforts of the industry, for example organic cotton, it is now time for a next step towards circularity,” says Poldner.

This includes looking into the possibilities of vegetable peelings as a raw material for leather. Also fungi and hemp are renewable raw materials for clothing which the sustainability is examined. A schimmeljurk that the mode is touched, would then ultimately compostable.


A schimmeljurk that the mode is touched, can ultimately compostable.

Clothing that is produced from vegetable alternatives also has the advantage that no plastics issues when washing. Nylon, polyester and acrylic do. Of synthetic substances is an estimated a year half a million tonnes of microplastics in the oceans.

Pigment from algae

The researchers are looking further into the chemicals that are used to color the clothing. Options for sustainable replacement of pigments from algae or colors produced by micro-organisms.

“We bring people from different sectors together to think about this problem,” says van Dam. ‘The consumer must also be fully aware of the value of clothing.’


Shopping today is more complex than ever. What do all those labels in your clothing or on food products, and are they reliable? Why would you refrain from cheap chains like a lot of expensive brands just as well in shady sweatshops produce? Do you actually know what’s on your plate, or what you smear on your skin? Is bio better, or are you going for organic, and what is the difference? Who knows what is best for you and how you should navigate in a forest full of ominous messages and well-intentioned advice? We are convinced that everybody had better wìl consume, but that we simply do not know how. Discover our guide to conscious consuming.


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