Fermented Fashion

“Microbes à la mode”

The Micro‘be’ project investigates the practical and cultural biosynthesis of microbiology – to explore forms of futuristic dress-making and textile technologies.


Micro'be' project garment - These organic textiles produce their own colour and structure, providing an eco-friendly “conceptual” alternative to cloth manufacturing – drawing attention to environmental conservation. Picture by Gary Cass found on Bioalloy's website

In contrast to the first project Fibre Reactive fashioned from the mycelium and fruiting bodies of the fungus, (Pycnoporus cockiness), Microbe fermented wear will be produced by biological fermentation. Hence this Micro’be’ textile differs in discourse conceptually/visually and biologically as it utilises bacterial waste rather than living fungal cells.

The project Microbe by Donna Franklina & Gary Cass aims to develop innovative research into the production of unique fermented garments grown from a novel method of using bacteria that creates cellulose from wine. Instead of lifeless weaving machines producing the textile, living microbes will ferment a garment. It smells like red wine and feels like sludge when wet, but the cotton-like cellulose dress fits snugly as a second skin. The material is very delicate, comprising micro-fibrils of cellulose.

This consists of a colony of bacteria (Acetobacter) that ferment wine into vinegar. This activity’s by-product is the synthesis of large quantity micro fibrils of cellulose (synonymous to plant based cotton).