10 things we learned from the Fashioned from Nature expo at the V&A

10 things we learned from the Fashioned from Nature expo at the V&A

We met one Saturday morning in December to visit the V&A and discover more on fashion from the Fashioned From Nature exhibition. We were only a little late after Lisa's phone took her and her bike to the V&A pub in Marylebone. We spent a total of two hours admiring the extensive collection of garments, materials and accessories. It was mind blowing to see how the processes and materials we use to make the clothes we wear have evolved over time and with the advancement of technology and acquiring new knowledge. In case you haven’t had the chance to visit the exhibition we have compiled a list of the ten most interesting facts we came across:

  1. Cotton is a water-hungry crop, which unless sustainably managed can be worse for the environment than plastic. Even more water is required to produce cotton fabric from the cotton balls.

  2. Rubber, used for shoe soles and elastic and waterproof parts in clothing, is derived from the milky sap of the barks of trees in the Amazon forest. The rubber trade was worth so much money that there is a colonial opera house in the middle of the jungle in Brazil. Nowadays rubber can be made synthetically.

  3. Viscose, made from wood, needs a lot of chemicals to turn the wood pulp into fabric.

  4. All the world's Viscose is produced in the same few factories in Indonesia.

  5. The fabulously silky Cupro fabric is produced by making cellulose a soluble compound by combining it with copper and ammonia.

  6. Tencel is a promising fabric made of wood fibres that's challenging the way fabrics are made.

  7. When plastic was invented, it was hailed as a wonder product and it meant people would stop having to use animal products for everything. In fashion this meant alternatives to whalebone (corsets), tortoiseshell (hair grips & combs), sealskin (coats) and bone (buttons).

  8. Vegetable ivory, an alternative to elephant ivory, is made from the seeds of the ivory nut palm, the tagua nut.

  9. The inner bark of the lace-bark tree consists of delicate layers of a lace-like substance which can be teased out and dried to create fabric.

  10. Stella McCartney (the fashion designer already known for sustainable practice) teamed up with Bolt Threads in 2017 a company that has developed a closed-loop process to bio-engineer a new protein fibre mimicking the structure of spider silk.

From seed to shop – How cotton is made

From seed to shop – How cotton is made

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