Fashion, Design & Beauty

Ex Adidas Designer Unveils Bag Made from Bacteria at London Design Festival

Modern Synthesis, a London-based biotechnology company, has partnered with GANNI, a Danish fashion brand, to reimagine its ‘Bou’ handbag using the company’s bacterial nanocellulose material.

Originally crafted from recycled animal leather, the new iteration is part of GANNI’s commitment to eliminate virgin leather from its products by the end of this year, and is being unveiled at the London Design Festival taking place until this Sunday.

“Our pilot is a testament to the potential of sustainable materials in transforming the fashion industry”

Founded by ex-Adidas designer Jen Keane and synthetic biologist Dr. Ben Reeve, Modern Synthesis uses a proprietary biotechnology process that transforms sugar derived from agricultural waste into nanocellulose fibers, which the company claims are eight times stronger than steel.

The company joins the ranks of other biodegradable textile manufacturers like 3D-printed Simplifyber and banana-based FOReT and Rashki, who are reimagining the textile industry with animal- and plastic-free alternatives. 

Modern Synthesis bioxtextile
© Modern Synthesis

GANNI’s Fabrics of the Future program is aimed at challenging conventional materials in fashion. Lauren Bartley, sustainability and CSR Director at GANNI, emphasized how this collaboration helps the company meet its goals: “GANNI is on track to phase out all virgin leather by the end of this year, which has been a radical goal for us. Working with partners like Modern Synthesis to develop more responsible and durable leather alternatives is crucial for us.”

Transforming the fashion industry

Jen Keane, CEO of Modern Synthesis, highlights: “Collaborating with GANNI on the Bou Bag has allowed us to showcase the viability of bacterial cellulose-based materials in real-world applications. Our pilot is a testament to the potential of sustainable materials in transforming the fashion industry.”

The Bou handbag will be featured at The London Design Festival’s Material Matters Fair from September 20 to 24, and the companies are aiming to launch the bag commercially by the beginning of 2025. 

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