As I was reading through my room mate’s weekly addition of Time Magazine, I came across a woman named Anke Damaske. Anke is a German fashion designer (and biochemist) whose recent designs have brought her into the spotlight. What makes Anke more creative than any other fashion designer? You guessed it- her newest collection is made from fabric... made from milk.
Where in the world did she get that idea? She began contemplating a new type of fabric after seeing her step father, who was being treated for cancer, suffer from extreme allergies and skin irritations because of different types of cloth. Anke also knew that in order to survive in the fashion industry, one must be constantly coming up with new, creative, affordable clothing options. Her background as a scientist helped her experiment with her team and try out different combinations until her idea for “Qmilch” clothing became a reality.
“Qmilch” is made from casein, a type of milk protein. Organic milk (that has not passed quality standards in Germany and would otherwise be thrown out) is reduced to a powder protein, boiled, and then formed into strands that can be used to make fabric. Surprisingly, only a ½ gallon of water is required in the process- compare that to 10,000 liters to make about the same amount of cotton.
The idea for milk clothing is not entirely new- people have been using milk proteins in fashion since about 1930. But Anke’s “Qmilch” is much more organic and natural than previous milk clothing, and doesn’t rely as heavily on acrylics and fillers. “Qmilch” is softer than cotton, flows like silk, and won’t cause skin irritations. Anke even won an award from Germany’s Textile Research Association for her new type of clothing. Her innovation is seen as having the possibility to “revolutionize the clothing industry.”
But not everyone is so convinced. At this point, “Qmilch” is still quite expensive- it costs more to make than organic cotton- and is still not used and accepted world wide; although Anke is planning on expanding the line in the near future. She hopes that keeping the fabric locally made will help drive down prices. She also argues that cotton fabric necessitates land to grow the cotton on, heavy machinery using oil to process it once it has been harvested, pesticides to help it grow, and creates tons of waste. “Qmilch” bypasses all of that.
It might have a bit of a way to go, but “Qmilch” is definitely a creative product. Novel- not using cotton, silk, and other common textiles. Appropriate- helping protect people from skin allergies, protecting the environment from pesticides and harmful waste products. And hands down, innovative and interesting. Now you can have your milk, and wear it, too!
To read more about Anke, check out this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/anke-domaske-milk-clothes_n_1094618.html.