Designer fascinated by birch fibre
The surface of the blue and terracotta fabric has a slightly coarse texture and a diffuse glow.
'I chose the pattern to highlight the fine sheen of the fibre,' says Eveliina Netti with a smile. She is studying textile design at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.
'The thread picked up colour really well and replicated the colours magnificently. I was also surprised by how incredibly strong it was. For example, when weaving linen, the warp threads tend to break, but Ioncell thread was really hard to break,' she says gratefully.
Ioncell is a fibre developed by Aalto University School of Chemical Technology professor Herbert Sixta's research group and manufactured with a solvent developed at the University of Helsinki. The material used to make the fibre is birch-based pulp obtained from Finnish pulp mills: a natural renewable material that doesn't require irrigation or agricultural land for its production. The fibre had already been used in a scarf and and in a knit dress produced in cooperation with Marimekko. Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen and Herbert Sixta gave Eveliina Netti a free hand in terms of design – and the chance to realise her personal mission.
'I want to offer Finnish men a relaxed and fun style. With the exception of Marimekko, men's fashion is either low-priced chain stores or luxury brands, she explains.
'It was also really great to be involved in a project that provides the chance to work with textile fibre produced in a truly sustainable way.'
Eveliina Netti selected a traditional Toika loom for weaving. 'They are simply the best.'
Ioncell clothing won't be available on store shelves in the near future, because fibre production is still mostly manual work and production volume is thus very small,. However, the future looks promising.
'The fibre is spun at the University of Borås in Sweden. I spoke with a technician at the spinning mill and he said that the fibre works so well that it could easily be put into factory use. Thinner thread could also be made from Ioncell, and this could be woven into a more flowing fabric.' reveals Eveliina Netti.
Also read: From a pulp mill to a fashion show
Professori Herbert Sixta
Text Minna Hölttä, photos Eeva Suorlahti