Biogarmentry was a Student Notable in the Personal Accessory category of the 2019 Core77 Design Awards.
“Fashion consumption has become a passive act,” says Roya Aghighi. The numbers prove it so: the fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater; 63% of its clothes are made from petrochemicals; and its industry alone emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year [source]. Yet, we still wear, consume, and otherwise support these industries.
Aghighi and her collaborators are introducing a new concept – Biogarmentry. It presents a shift from traditional models of “buy, use, and dispose” to “buy, care, and compost.”
A biotextile that lives through photosynthesis, Biogarmentry was developed in partnership with scientists and material engineers at The University of British Columbia (UBC). It is a living, breathing material that uses cellular respiration to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. 100% natural and fully compostable, it is symbiotically dependent on its wearer.
Once Aghighi and the teams at UBC began working together, the design process kicked off by setting up experiments to examine the survival of photosynthetic living cells on different kinds of natural fibers; they then spun a mixture of cultures and fiber, resulting in the first living and photosynthetic non-woven textile.
But it’s not just about the textile, or combatting fast fashion. Biogarmentry “works on implementing a deeper, more holistic idea of change,” Aghighi says. “It’s focusing on a transformation of our values, goals and collective behaviors around our consumption-oriented habits, emphasizing an ecological system capable of lowering waste and carbon emissions.”
The product ultimately reconfigures fashion consumption as an active act, fundamentally challenging our current relationship to our clothes by bringing agency back to textiles. This reconnection to worn objects has implications in environmental, social, cultural and industrial realms – and on a global scale. And it sets the tone for re-calibrated, more ecological relationships to other consumable, disposable objects we use and with which we surround ourselves.
Caring is the new future of consumption – and with biogarmentry, living, breathing and wearable is the new future of fashion. Or, at least worth trying on.