Pineapples and Bananas: Yummy to Eat, And Now Fashionable to Wear

Xconomy National — 

Style trends may come and go but the apparel industry is increasingly accepting that sustainability will always be in fashion.

“We have the chance to shift the environment to a cleaner, more non-toxic place,” says Greg Altman, co-founder and CEO of Silk, a Boston-area maker of a proprietary liquid silk. “That’s really our goal.”

To that end, Silk announced last week that it raised $30 million from investors to deploy the company’s silk technology into the apparel market as a replacement for chemical coatings or dyes to improve fabric appearance or wear. The lead investor in the funding round was Jeff Vinik, former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan Fund and current owner of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Founded in 2013, Silk first used the liquid silk in cosmetic formulations for its own branded skin care line.

“We’re trying to remove the toxic ingredients in the in the creams we apply and, in the clothing we wear, there are too many for us to ignore,” he says. “That’s what really led us into the pursuit of exploring our chemistry for textiles.”

Silk says its technology is made from non-GMO polymer threads of silkworm cocoons and is produced without petrochemical feedstock. Altman says the company will use the investment to expand production capabilities in order to meet apparel manufacturers’ demand. “We see huge opportunities in the luxury space: cashmere, wool, leather, the finest cotton,” he says. “I do believe any brand would make the switch if it’s economical and equal to chemicals.”

The industry is starting to respond. “One of the biggest challenges is how to continue to provide fashion for a growing population while improving the impact on the environment,” Karl-Johan Persson, … Next Page »

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