ROMBAUT 2016

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ROMBAUT envisions a future where man and machine form symbiotic hybrids – where exoskeletons enhance human physical performance. This is the concept for the spring 2016 collection of footwear; technical man-made materials combine with innovative organic materials to form an athletic, modern and experimental collection.

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“Our performance and our impact on our surroundings will be ever greater – the full convergence between body, technology and fashion will challenge our notions of where our body begins and ends. There is no longer any separation between our selves, what we wear and our environment.”

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The future-scaping, Parisian shoe company does not disappoint with their autumn 2016 collection, either. Slick blacks, arctic whites and otherworldly metallics with pops of blue and tufts of fuzz come together in perfect balance.

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These vegan “leather” jackets made from cork are Germany’s most successful fashion crowdfunding ever

by Eric Mirbach

Acessories by vegan eco fashion brand bleed

When Michael Spitzbarth founded German streetwear brand bleed, he created the flagship of German eco-fashion brands – as in comparison with most of his colleagues, Spitzbarth took one aspect into consideration most other eco-brands choose to ignore: not only are all bleed products made from GOTS certified cotton or other sustainable materials in fair labor in Portugal, but the whole line has been a 100% vegan from day one.

The crowdfunding campaign Spitzbarth and his small team launched for their version of the classic black leather biker jacket made from dyed cork in 2015 went through the roof – the most successful German fashion crowdfunding of all time is a good example how innovative design and the use of surprising, superior materials can create attention.

Hi Michael, please introduce yourself and tell us a little something about your company bleed.

My name is Michael Spitzbarth, I’m the CEO as well as the head of design at bleed clothing. After majoring textile design, I worked as a freelancer  in that sector for a couple of years. I was able to take a close look of the machinations of the textile industry during that time and then finally decided it was time to create change. I founded my own brand in 2008 and the name says it all – bleed; because for our entire product-line, no human, animal or any part of mother nature has to suffer. I wanted no harm, no poison, no living being harmed in the process… that’s part of our DNA, anchored within the production of our goods through the entire supply-chain. Eco-friendly, vegan and fair production of GOTS certified sports- and streetwear straight from the heart of Upper Franconia.

Michael Spitzbarth, CEO of vegan eco fashion brand bleed

 

It’s safe to say that you’re one of Germany’s leading eco-fashion brands – all organic and sustainable and you’ve also been vegan forever. How come you go that extra mile?

First off, thanks for the compliment. To answer your question, it’s just common sense to not “just” go organic, but also fair and vegan. These three pillars are what bleed stands on. Sustainability and a fair production process, free from animal suffering, these things just go hand in hand.

Can you tell us more about your biker jacket, about the material and how all this came about?

We always saw a great potential in the use of cork – not just as an alternative for leather, but also as a sustainable substitute for already existing, toxic imitations. That is why we already used it for accessories and patches. But the idea to create even more items with this amazing material has always been in the back of our heads. We finally made that step with the Montado Black Edition, a fashion- and accessory collection with cork as the main constituent.

“Cork is the 21st Century version of leather”

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The highlights of this collection are the two vegan “leather” a.k.a cork jackets. They are as stylish as the original – but they’re the renewable and vegan version. All items are free from animal suffering, toxic chemicals and have not been made under exploitative working conditions. All of this makes cork the leather of the 21st century. It’s not just a sustainable resource with an extraordinary appearance, but it’s value to the environment is priceless as well. The bark of the Portuguese cork oat protects the land from erosion and increases the absorption of rainwater. Furthermore, it binds CO², a process which is even increased every nine years due to the peeling of the bark. The cork tree has all these great benefits and allows us to create these sustainable and vegan products. And we don’t to chop it down, either.

You put together the single most successful fashion crowdfunding in Germany for that jacket, is that right?

That is actually right, the Montado Black Edition became the most successful fashion crowdfunding in Germany. We collected close to € 74.000 , which was 14.000 more than we originally were hoping for. We are convinced of our products and their quality, of course – we wouldn’t sell them otherwise. But the success of the crowdfunding campaign still came as a bit of a surprise. It looks like the people were just waiting for a sustainable and vegan alternative and it’s overwhelming to see what has been set in motion here.

 

Acessories by vegan eco fashion brand bleed

How’s the general feedback? And did you get a lot of requests from mainstream media? Is that topic interesting?

Fortunately, most of the feedback we got was very positive. A lot of people who got in touch were simply surprised, what cork is actually capable of. The majority just didn’t expect that you can actually make clothes out of this material that seems a bit fragile at first glance. But after they’d touched it, they were all very positive.

Most people associate the material with corks for wine bottles or even floor tiles, which made it surprising for a lot of folks, so it wasn’t a topic for the sustainable media outlets only, but for mainstream media as well. We had a lot of press.

What do you answer when people claim that vegan items “try to emulate non-vegan ones”?

I would say that this is nonsense. Just because we don’t want anyone to suffer for our consuption, be it human beings, animal or nature, doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to dress stylishly. That has actually been one of our goals from the start: Prove that fashion can be both – sustainable and well, fashionable.

Visit the brand’s website: bleed-clothing.com

Fashion Livestock

It’s often difficult to explain why using livestock products like leather or wool in fashion is harmful. I designed this infographic to help communicate some of the major global impacts.

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Eric Mirbach of Vegan Good Life

by Eric Mirbach

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Hi, my name is Eric and I founded a magazine. Let me tell you: It’s a wild ride. I wanted to be an activist and from where I stand, activism might come in many shapes and sizes, but can always be measured by the the grade of it’s effectiveness. I had been looking for a way to raise awareness for everything that’s wrong with exploiting animals, and after some soul-searching, I realized it would indeed be effective to simply use the trade in which I was already an expert to help the cause I’m trying to push forward. Rather than trying to learn a new trade, invest time and work to wrap my head around something new, I knew that if I stuck to my guns, I could do something solid and start right away.

I’m a photographer as well as an editor and I have been working for magazines for a pretty long time now. I’m based in Germany, but I’ve been traveling, shooting and writing articles, and have been published hundreds of times – but only when I partnered up with ex-model Julia Koch, who had ended her international career simply because it was impossible for her to match her ethical views with the demands of the job, I started to grasp that I could very well keep doing all that. I just needed to shift focus, pick up another subject for my work.

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So combining Julia’s inside knowledge of the high fashion world with my background in magazine making, Vegan Good Life Magazine was founded late 2014. With a background story like that and with our combined knowledge of fashion and lifestyle, photography, word-smithing, art and design, it was obvious that the magazine we would be putting out would have to be outside the box, taking the general idea of veganism one step further – especially when you look at the way vegans are still seen as radical hippies in large parts of Europe.

Vegan Good Life turned out to be a high end publication printed on thick, quality recycled paper, combining a slick design with superb photography, talking about all things nice and shiny, especially things other than food. We both felt that it only made sense to widen the view by leaving the most obvious (and easy) topic out and shift focus from food to all the other aspects of life which are, in the public eye at least, not connected to veganism at all – even if it meant taking a risk. At least at German newsstands, everything’s rather conservative and strictly categorized. This was reason enough for us to go and take another leap of faith by going bilingual. Vegan Good Life is both German and English (in one magazine), so we opened up to an international audience while keeping our roots deeply integrated into the DNA of the magazine.

The second issue of Vegan Good Life (with no other than The Discerning Brute’s Joshua Katcher and Vaute Couture’s Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart on the cover) can still be ordered online on our website: www.vegan-good-life.com

Issue #03 is in the works right now and will be out November 2015. We work a lot, don’t go out too much, but we make a point of eating healthy, cooking a lot, exercise regularly. There’s always a ton of stuff to do – we struggle with the sheer amount of correspondence we now have to face everyday. Our inboxes are trying to kill us, basically. Oh and did I mention how insanely expensive printing a magazine is? And isn’t it crazy how it all doesn’t matter when you just know you’re onto something? When it all feels so right, there’s no reason good enough to stop doing it.

Feel free to check out Vegan Good Life. We’re making it for you!

Fashion’s Biological Future is Now

safe_image-1by Joshua Katcher (also published on Huffington Post)

In an industry notorious for transience, flux and experimentation, it’s counterintuitive to consider that the fashion system is stuck in a rut when it comes to materials and real sustainability. Year after year, season after season, there’s this feeling of velocity, of working towards something better. Sure, there are a million ways a shirt can look, but if the way that shirt is made never changes, are things actually changing – or is it simply an illusion of progress?

Designers, press and editors alike continue to rationalize what happens to animals caught up in the fashion industrial complex as a necessary evil in achieving the highest quality, performance and most luxurious fibers, as if mother nature herself were meticulously positioning a leopard’s spots, arranging a reptiles scales or softening a goose’s down for the sole purpose of human use. And more often than not, the more rare an animal or cruel a process – from fetal lamb (also known as astrakhan or karakul) and calfskin (from veal calves) to angora and fur, the more heightened the perceived payoff will be. This is a strange psychological equation to say the least, but one that rules in the realm of luxury fashion. While animal agriculture is the single most environmentally problematic aspect of the fashion industrial complex, the choice to actually breed, farm, trap, confine and kill animals in order to attain their fibers will soon be obsolete thanks to a burgeoning sector of biofabrication startup businesses.

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Image: boltthreads.com

Leather without cows? Shearling without sheep, silk without spiders and furs without foxes? At first glance, something sounds wrong about this. The word “unnatural” gets thrown around when criticizing the cellular farming, synthesizing or culturing of animal materials. We think of frightening laboratories, test tubes, and scientists crouched over bubbling chemicals who are ‘playing god’ or at least Dr. Frankenstein! Our food and clothing should be coming from those bucolic images we see in ads of the quintessential farm with a red barn and two or three happy sheep lazing in a field, right? We cling to the marketed myths of where animal products come from because the images of factory farms, fur farms, leather tanneries or commercial shearing operations are not likely to stir up nostalgia, legacy and heritage. Outrage would be a more accurate reaction, which is why the reality of these industries are kept hidden – and now with AgGag laws, its illegal in many states to even document what’s happening inside these operations.

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Image: Joshua Katcher at IndieBio with the BioLoom team, holding cellulose used in production.

Enter Bolt Threads, BioLoom, Modern Meadow, Biocouture, Pembient, and BioFur. They are among the existing and emerging synthethic biology companies who are redefining agriculture, textile manufacturing and the fashion industry in general through innovation on a systems level. Bolt Threads has already developed an exact replica of spider silk without spiders, as Bloomberg recently reported. Modern Meadow is developing lab-grown leather and Icelandic designer Ingvar Helgason is developing BioFur, which is lab-grown pelts. Pembient has grown Rhino Horn in the lab, and will soon take on elephant ivory, while Biocouture developed a leather-like cellulose and now is a biofabrication and design-application consultancy. BioLoom has taken on the water and pesticide-intensive conventional-cotton industry with lab-grown cotton. The exciting thing about all of these companies is that they are just scratching the surface. This is a field of development and production that will be endlessly customizable, increasingly efficient and high-performance, and inherently more sustainable and less cruel than raising animals to kill them.

This is why the fashion community must stop kowtowing to the most sluggish and démodé symbols of luxury: fur, leather and wool that are still grown on an animals’ back.

It seems that if you have an idea for creating sustainable animal products without actual animals, you’ll be in luck because a huge trend in the field of synthetic biology is taking the greatest causes of the worst environmental problems, like animal agriculture, and finding visionary solutions. IndieBio, the San Francisco-based synthetic biology accelerator, recently announced that it’s offering $250,000 in seed funding for people with ideas for these types of startups.

Mock-up of a Muufri synthetic milk carton - the company is aiming for a marketable product by summer of 2015It’s also happening with food. New Harvest, a nonprofit that describes itself as “advancing technologies to feed a growing global population”, has helped launch companies like Clara Foods. Clara foods makes real eggs without hens. New Harvest also led Muufri, a company engineering yeast to produce cows milk without cows, to a similar accelerator. Modern Meadow, in addition to leather, has developed cultured meat, as has Impossible Foods.

The Biofabricate conference, heading into its second year, is a fantastic way to place your finger on the pulse of this movement.

We are on the brink of an industrial revolution and cellular agriculture is at the center of it. Companies like Ouro Botics are figuring out ways to take these developments into our homes and places of work by combining 3D printing technology with Bioprinting, so we’ll soon be able to print three-dimensional objects with organic and biological materials. Electroloom is mastering the technology of spray-on clothing, so clothing could be made of healthy, organic substances that are recyclable or biodegradable and always fit. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible.

the ultimaker 1... great fun repairing... ;-) www.our-botics.comanother ear because we realised we needed two... www.our-botics.com