Australian scientists have found a way to ‘grow’ clothes out of red wine waste products.

Boffins at the University of Western Australia, researching alternatives to conventional cotton, have created a fabric from wine and beer bacteria.

The rubbery cellulose layer formed as a waste product when wine is made into vinegar is used to create a ‘fermented fabric.’

‘We’re looking at [the fabric] to provoke some discussion about future fashions, about the possibility of other material we can use instead of our normal cottons and silks’ says Gary Cass from the University of Western Australia.

Cass gained his inspiration for the project when working in a vineyard several years ago.

The cellulose layer that forms on the surface of the wine after prolonged exposure to oxygen, is lifted out of the vats and laid over a deflatable doll to take the shape of a dress.

When the bacteria have grown and bonded together, the doll is deflated and removed, leaving a ready-to-wear dress.

Cass says ‘As long as we have alcohol, these bacteria will do their job.’

But there are drawbacks to the new fabric. It must be kept wet as the short cellulose fibres are like tissue paper when dry and are easily torn.

‘It’s the bacteria that are weaving all these fibres together. We’re not using any sewing machines and so forth.’

Cass, who has also been experimenting with making clear fabric panels out of beer, says the next step is to enlist the help of an organic chemist to create longer fibres that make more wearable seamless fabrics.

picture source: micro ‘be’ project

Written by Sophie Montagne