Why the most sustainable fashion solution yet could be clothes made out of algae
An algae dress that is the result of a collaboration between sustainable fashion researcher Charlotte McCurdy and designer Phillip Lim. The fashion industry produces more than 100 billion garments annually, about 14 for every person on Earth. Most end up in landfills or clogging rivers and beaches in developing countries. Only a fraction are ever recycled. For Charlotte McCurdy, a researcher, designer and assistant professor at Arizona State University in the United States, tackling the problem means thinking not just about where castoffs end up, but about how clothes are made. So in 2018, McCurdy set about designing a raincoat made from marine macroalgae – better known as seaweed – which absorbs carbon instead. The choice of garment was a deliberate comment on what we wear to protect ourselves against a climate that’s going haywire because of human activity. The translucent mac went on display in New York’s Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in 2019. McCurdy also teamed up with New York-based fashion designer Phillip Lim on a dress covered in green sequins fabricated from the same material.