[Disclosure: AgFunder—the parent company of AgFunderNews—is an investor in Modern Synthesis]
Designer bags… made by bacteria?
Founded by ex-Adidas designer Jen Keane (CEO) and synthetic biologist Dr. Ben Reeve (CTO), London-based Modern Synthesis recently teamed up with Danish fashion brand GANNI to unveil GANNI’s signature ‘Bou Bag’ using a leather-alternative produced, in part, by bugs.
Rather than growing mycelium—the filament-like root structure of mushrooms—to make its biomaterials, Modern Synthesis combines nanocellulose created by sugar-eating bacteria, with natural textiles such as hemp, linen or lyocell.
According to Keane, the process is “similar to how rebar is used to reinforce concrete” and generates materials that “can be processed on the same equipment as conventional textiles.”
But how efficient are bugs at creating bags, and how scalable is Modern Synthesis’ patent-pending technology?
AgFunderNews (AFN) caught up with Keane (JK) to find out…
AFN: How did you get interested in biomaterials?
JK: I went to Cornell and studied fiber science and apparel design, which was kind of at the intersection of textile technology and science with fashion design. It was quite a niche program but it led me into the sportswear industry where all the innovation in textiles has been happening over the last decade.
So I worked for a short time for Nike but spent most of my career at Adidas in Germany, where I worked predominantly as a material designer and developer. And then I worked to set up the material design direction team where we looked across the brand at strategic initiatives around materials. During that time I worked on a project called Parley for the oceans, which was an ocean plastic collection that integrated recycled ocean plastic [into fashion goods].
And I think that was the time that we realized the magnitude