A friend originally turned me on to Suzanne Lee and her BioCouture a while ago and I was recently reminded of her insanely cool work when I saw her Ted Talk online.

Suzanne is a fashion designer who paired up with a microbiologist to basically grow her own fabric! The fabric has the look and texture of a strange translucent leather and can be molded or cut and sewn into all different patterns.

In a simple fermentation process, similar to that used when making Kombucha, a mixture of yeast and bacteria essentially spin cellulose fibers in a sweet green tea bath. After a little more than a week, a thick mat of cellulose is harvested from the top of the culture. This is the fabric Suzanne uses as the base of her creations.

bio filmShe can create patterns and colors on the clothing using iron oxidation,

iron oxidation

vegetable dyes,

vegetable dyesor indigo dye.

indigoShe can even mold the fabric into whatever shape she wants to either add texture to a piece, or to mold the piece in its entirety.


One of the major hurdles for BioCouture to overcome is that the fabric produced biodegrades and is not waterproof. Meaning if you got caught in the rain wearing one of these outfits, you’d likely ended walking home in the buff. But using microbes to create fabrics leaves the door open for remarkable innovations as bacteria themselves are master innovators. If an organism could be engineered to create a cellulose mat with all the desired characteristics, growing your own fabric could become a reality!

You can watch Suzanne’s full Ted Talk and learn more about it, below.


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