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Kering and Johnston of Elgin join forces with Spiber for circularity project

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Spiber panel session at Biofabricate Paris Summit Credits: Biofabricate/Robert Leslie

Kering’s Material Innovation Lab, brands Eileen Fisher Inc. and Johnstons of Elgin, alongside dye and chemical manufacturer DyStar are joining Spiber’s ‘Biosphere Circulation Project’ to transform end-of-use textiles and agricultural by-products into new materials.

The initiative will see the brands supplying sample materials composed of specific fibres processed with key types of textile chemicals for Spiber’s lab-scale testing. The Japanese biotechnology start-up will then test and analyse how certain chemicals, like finishing agents and colourants, affect the conversion of cellulose and protein-based materials into nutrients that can be used in Spiber’s fermentation process, such as sugars and amino acids.

The primary objective of this project is to drive progress towards the creation of fully circular textile products that can be regenerated at an industrial scale into Spiber’s innovative Brewed Protein materials made from plant-based sugars utilising microbial fermentation technology at the end of their lifecycle.

Spiber intends to compile the results from its testing into a database that will indicate the efficiency of different materials in combination with textile chemicals when converted into nutrients for fermentation. This database will serve as a resource for the industry to refer to when designing products for circularity and products, and which will be compatible with circularity solutions, such as Spiber’s biosphere circulation system in the future.

Christian Tubito, director at Kering Material Innovation Lab, said in a statement: “To achieve a more circular textile industry, different multilevel approaches are necessary as well as validating and deploying different solutions.

“The ‘Biosphere Circulation Project’ is an ambitious and challenging initiative opening a new path to textile recycling. From being a last resort, recycling can become a new promising alternative for unusable textile materials.”

Spiber booth at Biofabricate Paris Summit Credits:Biofabricate/ Robert Leslie.

The news was announced at the Biofabricate Paris Summit and will see Kering’s Material Innovation Lab, Eileen Fisher Inc., Johnstons of Elgin and DyStar joining ski brand Goldwin and sportswear brand Pangaia, who began participating in the project in June 2023.

Inka Apter, director of material sustainability and integrity at Eileen Fisher Inc., added: “We need all the tools in our toolbox in order to jointly move our industry forward towards a circular economy for textiles.

“The biosphere circulation project looks at the fundamental principles of circularity at the level of building blocks of our materials, including dyes and finishes. It is a new yet essential approach to circularity that Eileen Fisher Inc. is glad to support. Let’s solve these challenges collaboratively!”

Circular Fashion
Eileen Fisher
Johnstons of Elgin
Kering Material Innovation Lab
Sustainable Fashion