From kelp to catwalk

Commercial-scale seaweed-based yarn can transform fashion

The World Economic Forum recently identified fashion and its supply chain as the planet’s third largest polluter after food and construction, releasing 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are largely caused by the production of fibres – synthetic fibres are non-renewable and derived mostly from crude oil.

The demand for sustainable fibres has been growing, and biomaterials company AlgiKnit is poised to scale the production of eco-conscious yarns for use by global fashion brands, which would effectively bring kelp-based yarn into the mainstream.  

The company has spent the past four years developing technology to produce yarns on a commercial scale to meet the growing demand for carbon-neutral, toxic-free textiles. The product is smoother, sleeker and more luxurious than the bioyarn it released in 2017, which was used as proof of concept and gave the world a glimpse of what the future of seaweed-derived textiles could look like, according to Design Indaba Alumnus Aleksandra Gosiewski, co-founder and COO of AlgiKnit.

“In recent years, we have focused all our energy on refining our material and ensuring that it meets the performance standards of conventional materials on the market today,” Gosiewski explains. “As part of this, we’ve devoted every inch of our yarns and knit samples to rigorous testing and analysis.”

One of the challenges AlgiKnit has run into is material availability – as the company has expanded its team and R&D division, it has outgrown its current manufacturing capabilities. This is one of the main reasons why it is launching its innovation hub in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Area, where it will be able to scale production to meet growing material demand. 

Gosiewski says hundreds of brands spanning industries from fashion to interiors have shown interest in using the material, which speaks to the wide-ranging reach that the textile industry has. AlgiKnit will start pilot projects with fashion brands in early 2022, potentially helping them to halve their carbon emissions. 

“This is a testament to how important sustainability has become to brands worldwide,” she explains. “The climate crisis becomes more urgent every passing day, and as the effects of climate change broaden, utilising more eco-conscious materials in the products we create is an imperative.” 

By leveraging seaweed – one of the most environmentally remediated and regenerating organisms on the planet – and turning it into yarn, AlgiKnit is offering a sustainable, eco-conscious alternative for brands looking to reduce their environmental footprint.

Read more: 

Kathryn Larsen on why seaweed is the building material of the future.

The maker of AlgiKnit talks seaweed fashion and the next stage of biotech.

Students create seaweed-based yarn to tackle fashion industry pollution.

Credits: AlgiKnit