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Maria Intscher of the fashion house Vera Wang got excited about wood-based glitter and bacterial cellulose

There is a lot of potential in new material innovations also in fashion. The more you can control the material the better.
Maria Intscher from Vera Wang
Maria Intscher has worked in sustainable fashion for 13 years.

The fashion industry has really changed due to growing environmental awareness. According to Maria Intscher, the Vice President and Design Director Ready-To-Wear of the fashion house Vera Wang, people nowadays have more awareness and they even demand for change to happen. 

Intscher visited the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering and experienced some of the latest research projects related to new sustainable materials and new applications. Intscher thinks that is striking to see the collaboration and communication between people from different disciplines like chemistry and fashion. 

“I think it’s very forward looking and also very necessary. Change can happen quicker because of that kind of collaboration.”

When Intscher started working in sustainable fashion 13 years ago, there was very little awareness among consumers. If there was any awareness, it was very superficial. The market for sustainable options was very limited and people were not willing to pay the extra dollar per meter for a fabric produced sustainably. Many companies got discouraged. 

Now Intscher sees a lot of hope in a more sustainable fashion industry. It is something that people demand nowadays.

“Consumers did not understand why they had to pay more for something. Now people actually perceive the value of sustainability in clothes, and people are looking for that and are even starting to demand it.” 

Potential in new innovations

As a designer Intscher sees a lot of potential in new material innovations. In a material designers are looking for different traits of different options of sustainable materials, not only one specific fabric or material. Designers need lot of different materials to create a complex product. 

One of the research topics presented was bacterial cellulose.

“I think that it could be applied as a substitute for leather! The more you can control the material that you are working on the better. Cellulose is biodegradable and you can control it. That’s why it’s very interesting.” 

Another topic that Intscher thought especially interesting was the research made of wood-based glitter and iridescent surfaces.

“At the moment there is no ecological alternative for sparkle. Glitter for example is very bad for the environment.”  

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