Sustainable Innovations

From Trash to Treasure by Youyang Song


Dutchman Simon Angel has found a talented designer whose innovation makes it possible to create textiles from recycled bioplastics. The curator of SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS presented these and three other developments during the FABRIC DAYS.

„More and more, we are moving towards an era of adhocracy. Transferring this into the material and textile world: Materiality and comfort will experience a comeback”, explains Simon Angle in our interview with him.

An example of this is presented here as part of the SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS:


How can innovative products be created without using new resources? How can we stop growing mountains of waste? Use the old to create the new: The designer and materials researcher Youyang Song has set herself the goal of helping to develop an ecosystem consisting of purely biodegradable materials. Handbags made of banana peel, lampshades made of soy milk – the designer processes organic waste into new recyclable materials. This results in products that can be returned to the natural cycle at the end of the product life cycle.

„Our goal is to establish a circular economy regarding the materials and follow the sustainable development guidelines to create our products.“

Youyang Song

Song has developed the “Cooking new materials” technique, in which fruit peels or soy milk are mixed with a natural binding agent. “APeel” is the name of the soft, innovative material created by this process. The natural product is also waterproof and robust like real leather, smells fruity, has a natural texture and is completely biodegradable. Protecting the environment in style: With her project, Song wants to show that environmentally friendly products can be not only practical, but also aesthetic and stylish.

Perfect Imperfection by Studio Mend


FABRIC DAYS presented futuristic innovations of international manufacturers. Besides, Sustainable Innovations curator Simon Angel introduced innovative developments of young designers in the SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS forum.

“Rethinking old traditions and adding a contemporary note to them can create innovation – sometimes you don’t have to come up with something entirely new to be innovative”, states Simon Angle in our interview with him.

An example of this “traditional innovation” is:


A new pair of jeans for 29,99€, a t-shirt for 7,99€. Constantly changing trends, synthetic fabrics and inferior quality: Since fast fashion conquered the world in the 1960’s, new clothes are available everywhere and at all times. What is broken is thrown away and what is no longer in fashion lies unused in the cupboard. More than two million tonnes of textile waste are generated annually in the European Union alone. When did our relationship to clothing change in such a way? This question was asked by the young fashion designer Sunniva Amber Flesland. She founded Studio Mend in 2019 to bring back the emotional and material value of what we wear.


“I am excited by raw material, old crafts and traditions, beauty, and looking for potential where it’s not easily seen.”

Sunniva Amber Flesland

Appreciate, repair, refine: At Studio Mend, traces of wear and tear from through the lifespan of the garments are repaired in a very special way. Island Weave, Edge Mend, Pinstripe Patch, Crossover Stitch: The customer can choose between these four carefully developed technical styles to make his or her damaged favourite piece whole again. In combination with individual colour designs, valued and unique pieces are created. The acceptance of transience and imperfection – this is the basic principle of the Japanese philosophy Wabi Sabi, which served as inspiration for Flesland. Instead of hiding faults, they are celebrated as signs of an eventful life. Visibly and ingeniously, the artist creates valuable, aesthetic and unique pieces as a statement for a better fashion world.

Solar Self by Pauline van Dongen


Every season, Simon Angel is searching for the four most futuristic SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS.

These four sustainable developments have been presented at FABRIC DAYS – one of them being this textile innovation that combines technology and fashion in a unique way:


A dress to recharge your smartphone? What sounds like utopia is already tangible reality. For their project “Zonnestof” (“Sun Dust”), Pauline Van Dongen and Maaike Gottschal have developed a woven textile with thin, flexible solar cells, thus creating new aesthetic qualities and material properties. A play on colour, texture and transparency: By combining the solar cells with different yarns and various weaving patterns and techniques, a wide range of textiles can be produced.

“The creative process invites people to participate, to explore their dreams and wishes as well as to show what role solar energy can play in their daily lives. All participants become owners of the project through their contribution and thus part of a larger movement.”

Pauline van Dongen

But the Dutch fashion designers and researchers are not only interested in embedding technology in fashion. The initiators of the project are much more interested in the social experience of working with solar fabrics and wearing technology on the body. In workshops, the project invites the participants to create their own piece of “solar design” and weave a sustainable future. Instead of seeing nature and technology as opponents, Van Dongen and Gottschal want to make technology something that goes without saying. And it is not only fashion that can gain unprecedented added value from solar fabric: The textile can also be used in architecture or interior design, for new transport concepts and in public spaces as well as for events and festivals.

Living Material by Iris Bekkers


SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS curator Simon Angel presented four developments for the season Autumn.Winter 21/22 at FABRIC DAYS at the beginning of September. The Dutchman is always on the search for interesting young designers, outstanding innovations and the latest novelties in the textile world.

In our latest interview with him, he stated: “With the Sustainable Innovation forum, we present the near future and showcase what already is possible.”

Let us now present you the first of this season’s SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENTS:


Doesn’t fit anymore, doesn’t fit properly: Many of our favourite pieces of clothing lose their shape after a short time and are shipped directly to the nearest garbage dump. Textiles that adapt to individual body shapes and external conditions could reform the fashion and textile industry.

To create such textiles, product designer Iris Bekkers uses auxetic materials in her project “Moving Structures”, i.e. stretchable materials that can adapt their structure to their surroundings. As part of her final project at Eindhoven University of Technology, she has developed a special face mask that not only adapts to different face shapes, but also adapts its filter function to the environment and is very breathable.

More comfort, longer wearing time, less waste: Due to their geometric structures, auxetic materials become thicker when stretched, rather than thinner like most fabrics. The potential of such fabrics ranges from jackets that adapt to the seasons and can therefore be worn in summer and winter, to shoes that change their flexibility and stability as required. Bringing the material to life: For her designs, Iris Bekkers not only thinks about the material and its texture, but also about the context in which the fabrics are used and enjoyed. Only in this way can her designs combine man and nature.

“The auxetic samples are the start and inspiration for a range of products that can adapt and transform themselves, functioning optimally in different circumstances. The potential for adaptability results in more value, more function and a reduction in the quantity of materials and products necessary.”

Iris Bekkers

SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS - Where The Big Changes Will Happen



An interview with SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS curator Simon Angel – the Dutchman who is always on the search for interesting young designers, outstanding innovations and the latest novelties in the textile world. You will find Simon and the four SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS he chose this season in the foyer of hall 4 at FABRIC DAYS.

Save your personal eTicket for FABRIC DAYS!

  1. Simon, what new innovations can we expect this season?

Rethinking old traditions and adding a contemporary note to them can create innovation – sometimes you don’t have to come up with something entirely new to be innovative. This edition ‘the new thing’ is referring to something old like weaving, repairing and recycling. For example, weaving with solar-panels from Pauline van Dongen, repairing as value-creation from Studio Mend or value adding applications by Auxetics and industry ready, recycled bioplastic fabrics by Studio YouYang. All these projects use traditional crafts and materials, but in a new and innovative way.

2.         In 2020, the Corona pandemic brought the world to an unscheduled stop. But the crisis has also sped up the movement towards a more sustainable lifestyle. How will this shape innovation?

As you know, I’m an optimist. This year’s developments actually encouraged change. How you look at things makes a big difference in order to get yourself in the right inspired mode. Pandemics or heatwaves are nature’s way of confronting us. Just like we are experiencing changes in our environment, the nature experienced changed by humans for years and is now responding to us. All this is leading us to a dialogue with nature – a much needed one. Bit by bit we realise we exist as part of nature. Designers, scientists, the industry and consumers change their habits and question old methods. Finally, most of us start to realise what is necessary to ultimately save our world. We can only achieve that, when we are searching to find the balance with ourselves and with nature.

  1. It is the sixth time that you are curating the SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS. How has this year’s edition been different?

The responses to sustainable innovations are new. The dialogue is getting serious. For example, have a look at the location of the Sustainable Innovations forum this year: It has moved from the Keyhouse to the main hall, right in the heart of the industry. Right at the spot where the big changes happen.

  1. This year’s innovations are all about the material: textiles created out of biowaste fabrics, adapting its shape to the environment – can you give us a glimpse into the material of the future?

With the Sustainable Innovation forum, we present the near future and showcase what already is possible. As you can see, this future finds its inspiration in old traditions, crafts and resources. But what comes after that? It is hard to predict as the world is losing its linearity as we know it. More and more, we are moving towards an era of adhocracy. Transferring this into the material and textile world: design and shapes will not be the main focus of designers anymore. Materiality and comfort will experience a comeback – and we will have to redefine the product development process and all that entails. We have to open our minds and let go of expectations. We have to source from our universal knowledge to create something that in this form has never been there before.

Youyang Song

Studio Mend

Pauline van Dongen

Iris Bekkers

  1. How can we see the current situation as an opportunity to innovate, rather than for all the challenges it presents?

This situation shows on a holistic level, that humans have to develop themselves and challenge the Status quo. Enjoy the experience as it opens up new horizons which we could never have dreamt of. Look at the Munich Fabric Start, with the Fabric Days they showed how to deal with unforeseen  obstacles and ever changing circumstances – a pretty good demonstration of a future recipe for attitude, mental shift and permanent dialogue. So yes, let’s see every day as a chance for a better tomorrow.

Learn more about Simon’s sustainable novelties for the season Autumn.Winter 21/22 during the three days of FABRIC DAYS from 1 – 3 September 2020 at MOC Munich.




1 SEPTEMBER 2020 · 9.30 AM – 6.30 PM
2 SEPTEMBER 2020 · 9.30 AM – 6.30 PM
3 SEPTEMBER 2020 · 9.30 AM – 4.00 PM



MOC Munich | Halls 1 – 4 Ground Floor
Lilienthalallee 40
D – 80939 Munich


Foreign Foraging – Jeannette Lili Weiss on scarcity & abundance

Someone goes hunting – and returns with a bag full of plastic. This scenario, which Jeannette Lili Weiss creates with her project “Foreign Foraging”, is not so far away from reality. The authors of a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation warned three years ago that by 2050, plastic waste in the sea could weigh more than all schools of fish put together. With “Foreign Foraging”, the artist and designer poetically addresses the complex problem of scarcity and abundance in times of climate change.

„I use poetry and design to address environmental issues. In that way, I hope to reach people on an emotional level and to make them care.“ Jeannette Lili Weiss, Artist and designer

Two woven carpets of recycled fishing nets and plastic elements from the sea are accompanied by a poem telling the story of a transformation: While resources are becoming scarcer and the lives of many animals are threatened, plastic is abundant. The ocean changes from a source of food to a source of material and confronts humans with the question: What can still be hunted in this increasingly man-made nature? Weiss’ answer is both visually appealing and frightening.

As I take what I find, I work with what the sea spits out. I collect traces of humankind.
(Extract from the poem „I am a forager“)

CT Dairy - Gal Yakobovitch Presents Textile Coating Made From Milk

The price of milk production has risen. The consequences for farmers in the US state of Conneticut, which is known for its dairy industry, are noticeable. To test new revenue opportunities, the TILL: (Today’s Industrial Living Landscapes) studio has asked New York based designer Gal Yakobovitch to test the use of milk in fashion. The idea was implemented in the bioFASHIONtech Lab in Stamford.

„The most important aspect of sustainable Design in my eyes is communication. Collaborative work and process sharing are the foundations of innovative design practices.“ Gal Yakobovitch, Designer

The milk protein Casein is already used for the production of hard plastic. This inspired Yakobovitch to develop a water-repellent coating for clothing. The result is CT Dairy: In collaboration with a local farm called Shaggy Coos, Yakobovitch developed sustainable unisex workwear from vegetable-dyed, second-hand t-shirts. She combined the fabric elements in a patchwork technique to form an apron dress and a trouser-shirt combination and coated them with milk. The rubber-like cover emphasises the comic-like prints of the t shirts and creates a contemporary look.

Rinse Off – Caterina Tioli Explores Traditional Techniques & Materials

Anyone who thought that Germany was the country of potatoes has not yet been to the Netherlands. The popular vegetable is grown on almost one quarter of the country’s farmland. With 500 different varieties, the Netherlands is the world leader in the production, export and processing of potatoes. The starch contained in potatoes has been used for centuries in a variety of ways: to fix and solidify food, for elaborate hairstyles – and of course textiles. Anyone who thinks of grandma’s white tablecloth and grandpa’s shirt collar misjudges the potential of this natural miracle cure. Because starch can do much more.

“I believe that traditional techniques and materials are worth being re-investigated and re-discovered in order to achieve a more sustainable future.” Caterina Tioli, designer

The Italian designer and graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven Caterina Tioli uses the properties of potato starch in her “Rinse Off” project to stabilize unspun wool for further processing. By washing linen and cotton fabrics with potato starch powder, the fibres stand and become dirt-repellent. Tioli processes raw fibres with water and starch to weave them after drying. A side effect: The wool becomes ample and full, so that less material is needed. At the end of the weaving process, the starch is rinsed off again. An homage to forgotten traditions and the harmonious relationship between humans and nature.

Sisal is More Than a Rope

SISAL is more than a rope

The undiscovered potential of this natural fibre

From the door mat at the entrance of the house, to the cat’s scratching tree, to the cord for gardening – sisal fibres are omnipresent in everyday life. In terms of production volume, it is the fifth most important plant fibre in the world, yet sisal remains almost unused as a textile. The material which comes from the leaves of the agave plant seems to be too scratchy and hairy. Isabella Monaco set herself the goal of helping the underrated fibre gain new fame and to bring it out of the shadow of its unglamorous existence. In doing so, it aims not only to exploit untapped potential, but also to create an alternative to environmentally harmful synthetic materials.

„We allow synthetic materials to eclipse the natural ones but this is one of the biggest mistakes we can do as designers. When we create object, we have to consider the morality of it.“ Isabella Monaco, designer

Tear-resistant, biodegradable and naturally mould-resistant, sisal has a number of attractive properties. Monaco experimented with hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate to make the material smoother while maintaining ist robustness. As an unexpected side effect of this “cotonization”, as she named the process, the threads became lighter. As a result, the subsequent dyeing with natural pigments also had a rapid effect. Delicate pink, bright turquoise and accents in a subtle light yellow give the sisal fibre a new look. Finally, the sisal fibres are combined with sustainably produced cotton threads. Woven in a traditional Japanese technique, Monaco proves once again that nature still offers many surprises: Sisal, More than a Rope.

Seamline Project – Gu Qiong emphasizes The Object Character of Clothing


GU QIONG emphasizes the object character of the clothing

Clothes are constructed. Where should which seam sit, at which height should the pockets be, lapels yes or no? Decisions are made based on all these questions in the design process – in the industry as well as in haute couture. In everyday use, these design details are pushed into the background, forgotten. What remains is a textile shell that covers the body. With her project “Seamline”, Gu Qiong emphasizes the object character of the clothing by emphasizing seams with quilting and glowing yarns. In her choice of colours, she refers to the teachings of traditional Chinese philosophy.

„The usual pattern and look oft he clothes has made us so familiar with them that we often take them for granted and take less notice of their composition and temper as a subject. Indeed, they have!“ Gu Qiong

Wood, fire, metal, water and earth are the basis of the Five Elements theory, according to which all things can be categorised into these five basic elements. Directly derived from nature, they describe all life under the aspects of becoming, transformation and decay. Yellow stands for metal, green for wood, blue for water, brown for the earth and red for fire. They all stand in relation to each other and are dependent on the balance of nature. On the transparent organza of the linear collection pieces, the construction lines emerge through the colourfulness. In a poetic way, they symbolize the individual character of the clothing, an emotional product that is constantly in a relationship with nature.