Vat-grown bio-fashion

Robbo sez, "In the age of 3D printing and growing new body parts in a lab - the fashion industry steps forth and joins the fray - using bacteria to grow clothing. As described in a post on the site: 'designer Suzanne Lee has crafted fashion items that look both cool and unsettling. No doubt we'll all soon be wearing clothing we can print out or grow - purchasing designs online and then heading down to the kitchen to try things on. Biodegradable? Possibly. Could also be used to thicken gravy.'

Biocouture (Thanks, Robbo)


  1. Just a new way to make fabric. Still has to be cut and sewn, nowhere near ‘heading down to the kitchen to try things on’

    1. Actually some of them aren’t sewn, and by modifying the production method (along lines on which the artist appears to have been experimenting), they wouldn’t necessarily need to be cut, even.

  2. Marvelous stuff. It seems like the material is essentially the zoogleal mat of a “kombucha” mother. It looks eerily like human leather, or not-so eerily like old latex.
    I imagine it’s too stiff and brittle to be actually wearable right now, but after some tinkering with the micro-organisms used, this could be a practical production method.

  3. Behold the future! Where even the most basic methods of production can become more expensive, unwieldy, and time consuming.

    1. Er, how is this more expensive and time consuming? Spending two weeks growing a ready-made sheet of material, versus, say, the 8 to 9 months needed to grow and harvest cotton plants, which then need to be processed, turned into thread, and then woven into cloth? It looks to me like this is a lot less expensive, unwieldy and time consuming than producing conventional clothing, and this is still in the “wild experimentation” stage, not even remotely close to mass production.
      Imagine going to a tailor where they do a quick scan of your body, make a form based on it, and then over several weeks grow clothing right onto that form that fits you perfectly. It could all be done in one building, using less resources and labor than is currently required to make any mass-produced third-world sweatshop clothing item.

  4. “Abercrombie Station”, Jack Vance, 1952 — although that was spray-on couture. Pity the large quantities of stations in LEO aren’t anywhere to be seen, though.

  5. Would YOU wear that???


    As for myself: No thanks.

    Yet, keep up the good work!

  6. the true question, howmever,
    can they make sparkly boa snake things for strippers who wear vinyl see through coats? Cuz if so, then we may already be in the future.

    1. I was wondering how long they would last after one sweaty night of dancing at a club…

  7. At the Party

    Friendly, good-looking person: “Hi, wow, that’s an interesting piece of clothing. What’s it made out of?”

    Wearer: “Bacteria.”

    Friendly, good-looking person: “Ummm, really? Huh, well, nice talking with you…!”

  8. I see this being up there with some of Bruce Sterling’s notions in “Holy Fire”, where we’ve swung back on our self-flung evolutionary pendulum from greasy, stinky unwashed monkeys in powdered wigs and lace to the obsessively disinfected uber-pristine sterile apes prone to all sorts of infection and then to a saner middle ground where we realize just how much we ourselves are an amalgam of bacteria and the world around us more so – using this bacteriological interaction for all things from hygiene to medicine to growing buildings and – hey, why not – clothes that look (and hopefully smell) like bacon.

    It’s not gross – it’s just an accepted extension of who we are into the world we live in and the gradual melding of it all. Clothes, food, tech and housing will merge. We’ll eat furniture and wear the world around us.

    But there will always be barbeque.

    Running shoes on a bun, anyone?


    And – the zen of the Captcha is thus:

    “weinert power”

    I rest my case.

  9. Ever seen those Inuit raincoats made out of fish bladders? That’s what these look like.

    Think what you could do with, say, fluorescent bacteria! Shimmery squid! Glowing jellyfish genes!

  10. So eager to leave a comment I forgot to sign in to say: “Hey, this is me.” – which it was. So there.

  11. These are pretty cool. I especially like the ‘denim’ jacket although part of me thinks they all look like something Ed Gein would wear.

  12. Good: Home-grown clothing.
    Bad: The first hairy dude to wear one of these without an undershirt.

  13. How is wearing a product of bacterial culture more unsettling than wearing the mechanically processed and chemically treated skins of animals?

    In my opinion it’s closer to wearing plant products than animal products, ethically (admittedly I wear animal products, vegans should probably argue amongst themselves on this point), and I’m a HUGE fan of fermented food and medical products. If I can eat cheese, drink beer and take penicillin derivatives, I can wear micro-organism cultured fabric.

    Once it doesn’t have the texture of fish bladders.

  14. Maybe it’s just me – I don’t find this unsettling in the slightest; I LOVE the look of the “fabric” and especially the color undyed. I’d sport the heck out of clothing like this.

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