Material World: Ganni Advances Climate Goals With Modern Synthesis and Ambercycle

Material World is a weekly roundup of innovations and ideas within the materials sector, covering news from emerging biomaterials and alternative leathers to sustainable substitutes and future-proof fibers.

Ganni, Modern Synthesis and Ambercycle

Ganni‘s “Bou” bag got baptized in the bacterial nanocellulose materials produced by Modern Synthesis. The Danish fashion imprint is also forging ties with Inditex supplier Ambercycle, the Los Angeles-based maker of Cycora-branded regenerated polyester.

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Aligning with Modern Synthesis advances Ganni’s goal to “phase out all virgin leather by the end of this year,” said Lauren Bartley, sustainability and CSR director for the Levi’s collaborator.

“Working and trialing with partners like Modern Synthesis to develop more responsible and durable leather alternatives is crucial for us,” Bartley added. “Doing so enables us to create high-quality design products in lower-impact materials—changing the future of fabrics as we know them today.”

The animal-free Bou bag debuted at the London Design Festival’s Material Matters fair in September, furthering Ganni’s Fabrics of the Future program focused on “responsible alternatives” to conventional fashion inputs. The bag should be commercially available in 2025.

“By partnering with Modern Synthesis to develop our iconic Bou Bag from bacteria, we get another step closer to our goal of having 10 percent of materials coming from our ‘Fabrics of The Future’ by 2025—and we can’t wait to see what else we can make with Modern Synthesis’ technology,” Bartley said.

Modern Synthesis harnesses the power of bacterial fermentation to produce a plastic-, petrochemical- and animal-free biotextile. Bacteria commonly found in Kombucha, K. rhaeticus, digests sugars sourced from agricultural waste into nanocellulose fibers that create a biofilm that Modern Synthesis manipulates into a fashion-ready material, said Jean Keane, Modern Synthesis co-founder and CEO.

“By observing how microbes produce nanocellulose in the wild, Modern Synthesis has developed the ability to alter specific material properties, like thickness or pliability,” Keane said, adding, “This enables [us] to produce materials which are tailor-made for specific product applications, like handbags or shoe uppers.”

The composite material is finished with green chemistries to achieve the desired look, feel or function specific to the brand aesthetic and product application. Modern Synthesis’ material process is designed to fit into existing textile infrastructure to rapidly scale production. Naturally derived coatings and finishings can be added to the material for additional functionality and customization, Keane said.

Ganni's women's jersey top made with Cycora.
Ganni's women's jersey top made with Cycora.

“For the Ganni Bou Bag, [we] created a unique natural textile using [our] in-house robotic weaving system to give the material its distinct aesthetic—in this case, cotton yarn was used to create a pattern which is not currently offered through conventional textile production,” Keane said. “However, a wide variety of natural cellulosic textile structures and fibers can be used, such as linen, hemp or lyocell. Research supports that cellulosic materials are safely biodegradable at the end of life and they have the potential to be recycled, depending on the use-case.”

“These one-of-a-kind pieces are pivotal in evaluating a material’s workability and appeal to both designers and consumers—which paves the way for its eventual integration into everyday fashion. It also gives us the chance to test our compatibility as partners,” Keane said. “To achieve this, we need to optimize our material for commercial production in their factories. We’re also actively working to scale up our own material production so that our lower-impact biotextiles are more accessible to all.”

Ganni’s new deal with Ambercycle marks another leap forward on the sustainable fashion front, according to Bartley, who described the Bestseller partner as “one of the front runners when it comes to recycling post-consumer waste within polyester fibers.”

The duo is starting with a women’s sports jersey T-shirt in the Ganni Sport collection that incorporates Cycora, a material regenerated from recycled post-consumer and industrial textile waste. But this garment could be just the beginning. Ganni suggested that additional Cycora designs could be coming down the pike as it halves its carbon footprint by 2027. By 2025, it has stated a goal to source 10 percent of materials via the sustainability-oriented Fabrics of the Future scheme.

“Ganni’s comprehensive approach to responsible brand-building is completely aligned with our vision for what the future of fashion can look like,” Shay Sethi, Ambercycle’s co-founder and CEO, said. “Our collective aim is to bring circular products to market quickly and drive systemic change urgently needed in the fashion industry. This partnership marks a pivotal step in our journey to scaling the production and widespread adoption of circular materials.”

Worn Again Technologies

Textile recycler Worn Again Technologies, research institute Institut für Werkstofftechnik und Kunststoffverarbeitung (IWK), and technology scale-up partner and shareholder, Sulzer, secured a joint bid for grant funding from Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, along with other participants.

Its flagship project, “Towards a NetZero Plastics Industry,” aims to give Swiss companies a platform to “foster collaboration and drive systemic change” within the plastics industry. The role of Worn Again will be to focus on converting used textiles into a higher-grade PET—something “suited to an important Swiss manufacturing sector, technical parts,” it said.

The project will run January 2024 through 2028—aligning with Worn Again’s plans to bring its demonstration chemical recycling plant in Winterthur, Switzerland, online. The Alliance of Textile Chemical Recyclers member said it plans to convert spent textiles into high-grade PET suitable for applications in “injection molding technologies” for technical parts.

“We want to use our demo plant and develop the surrounding value chain as a blueprint for building out the circular economy globally,” said Toby Moss, Worn Again’s director of business development. “Our clients want our technology to deliver environmental benefit and generate value. In addition to our core fiber-to-fiber offering, by enabling non-textile outcomes for Worn Again’s circular products, our clients can leverage their plants to maximize both outcomes.”