Friday, June 21, 2024

A shirt woven from human hair.. Will this type of fabric revolutionize the fashion industry?

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Wool coats and human hair wigs have more in common than previously thought, because not only do they help conserve body heat, they’re both made of keratin protein fibers.

Now, a Dutch startup is asking why wear one and waste the other.

Human Material Loop hopes to transform the fashion industry by turning human hair into fabric.

So far, the company has designed prototypes of coats, sweaters and jackets from human hair, with the hope that clothing companies will one day buy rolls of its substitute material for their own designs.

The company has created prototypes of coats, jackets and sweaters from human hairCredit: David Kane Worden/Human Subject Loop

For her part, the company’s co-founder Zofia Koller said she has always been fascinated by the possibilities of using hair as a texture. She was interested in people’s feelings about it. “We care about our hair, but once it’s cut, we hate it,” she said.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, Kollar faced an identity crisis as a designer and decided to fix the waste problem in the hair industry.

Don’t waste it

The company hopes that garment manufacturers will buy rolls of its replacement material for their own designsCredit: Medina Resik/Human Subject Loop

Every minute, salons in the United States and Canada generate 877 pounds of waste. When hair decomposes without oxygen, like a bag of trash in a landfill, it releases greenhouse gases that contribute to the climate change crisis.

According to the Human Material Loop, 72 million kilograms of human hair waste ends up in European landfills annually, equivalent to the weight of 7 Eiffel Towers.

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“It’s a huge, abundant waste stream, and there’s no scalable solution right now,” Koller said. He adds that most countries burn this waste, and many alternative solutions are not environmentally friendly, or suitable for large-scale use.

Using a hair texture is no different than knitting a sweater with any other material because the short hair is twisted together into a continuous thread and then dyed with pure dyes, Koller explains.

As the company expands production, it can dye yarn or fabric, depending on which is more efficient, he added.

An example of a human material loop is a sweater with a wool-like texture.

“I had to create a product that people could relate to, and this was one of the most meaningful prototypes we could create, but also very relatable,” Koller said.

Using human hair isn’t much different than knitting a wool sweater, Koller explains.Credit: Medina Resik/Human Subject Loop

Since then, the company has tested other prototypes, including a fur-lined outer coat to provide thermal insulation, which was put to the test in extreme conditions during a trip to Mount Aconcagua, Argentina’s highest mountain.

However, these designs are not available for purchase, they aim to provide materials for other designers and brands to use.

The company imports human hair from salons in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.Credit: Nikola Lamburov/Human Subject Loop

Koller points out that wool should be priced competitively once it reaches a large production scale: “We know that most people are not yet ready to wear human hair on our bodies.”

But he believes the idea can gain traction with the public. For Koller, wearing a jacket made from human hair isn’t just about innovation or sustainability; On the contrary, it proves that human hair is a very durable material.

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Human Material Loop imports human hair from salons in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, which it claims does not contain any nuclear DNA that can be cut or identified to an individual. The company is working on creating a chain of custody to trace where its products come from and where they go.

A growing industry

The design of this jacket uses human material loop human hair as a thermal insulator.Credit: Pablo Betancourt/Human Material Loop

Historically, human hair has been used as a textile in various cultures. In Micronesia, the Kiribati tribe created woven armor made from natural materials including coconut fiber, shark teeth, palm fronds, and human hair. In the 13th century, in what is now the southwestern United States, people tied strands of hair together to make stockings.

Higashi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. After it was destroyed by fire, ropes made of human hair donated from all over Japan, mixed with hemp, were used during the temple’s reconstruction in the 19th century.

But using hair as a fabric is not without its challenges, and nothing to do with the human material loop, explains designer and associate lecturer at the University of the Arts London, Sunny Visser.

“There is still controversy over using human hair as a material,” Visser said. “We don’t really value it as a resource, it’s seen as a waste, especially when it’s being cut down.”

In his project for the Design Museum in London, Visser worked with hairdressers and envisioned how hair would become a valuable resource in the future, coining the term “hair replacement” and redesigning the barber’s chair. For hairdressers and recyclers.

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Visser emphasized that using human hair in our products is not easy.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to get people to accept it (hair) as a commodity, and I can definitely see it entering our daily lives over time,” he said.

Bill Dittman
Bill Dittman
"Freelance alcohol fan. Coffee maven. Musicaholic. Food junkie. Extreme web expert. Communicator."

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