Textiles

Balenciaga Partners With GOZEN to Use Animal-Free Material Made by Microorganisms

Following substantial controversy in the media since November of last year, French fashion house Balenciaga has joined forces with US biomaterials startup GOZEN to make garments from an animal-free and plastic-free material made by microorganisms.

Called LUNAFORM, the material is formed when microorganisms make ultra-crystalline patterns with the aid of nutrients and natural agents. While plant-based leather alternatives are typically made from a mixture of materials, LUNAFORM comes from a single process, meaning it is stronger than most of its competitors — including animal leather.

Balenciaga has used the material to design its Maxi Bathrobe Coat, part of the fashion house’s Summer 24 collection. The coat was recently exhibited at Paris Fashion Week and follows two years of collaboration between the companies, with GOZEN working to meet Balenciaga’s stringent requirements.

LUNAFORM is said to have “a natural drape and softness that sets it apart from existing alternatives”. The material is produced in 13-square-foot sheets, with a customizable thickness and texture.

© Gozen

“Transcending material innovation”

Like many fashion houses, Balenciaga is working towards becoming more ethical and sustainable. In 2022, luxury fashion group Kering — which owns Balenciaga along with Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, and more — ceased using real animal fur at all its fashion houses.

Kering has also helped to fund sustainable material companies, including cultivated leather producer VitroLabs. Additionally, the company joined a consortium in 2020 to gain access to Bolt Threads’ mycelium-based leather alternative, Mylo.

“Our mission transcends material innovation. It’s about reimagining our relationship with the natural world. By partnering with a visionary brand like Balenciaga, we’ve come one step closer to our goal,” said GOZEN founder Ece Gozen.

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