Saturday, February 4, 2012

Qmilch- Clothing Made From Milk

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:


  1. What really caught my attention when I read this post was how Domaske managed to combine her backgrounds in both fashion and biochemistry. I wondered whether she considered herself a scientist who enjoyed designing clothes or a designer who happened to understand science. After watching the video, however, it’s clear she was always interested and involved in both fields. She refused to focus on only one subject, and as a result, she had the idea and ability to combine her fields to make a creative product. I imagine that by knowing the intricacies of both dressmaking and biochemistry, it made the process much easier to accomplish. If she didn’t have both skill sets, would she have been able to successfully make the fabric and transform it into something usable for the consumer?

  2. I am hoping that my internal need to keep coming back to this post and the story of Anke Damaske herself. I am fascinated by the coincidences that allowed her to create this product: her training in both fashion and biochemistry combined with a want to provide her suffering stepfather with comfort (or at least relief from the skin irritation) allowed Damaske the perfect opportunity to create a cloth that is useful and appropriate. In reply to Jessie's post, from my understanding of this story, the only reason this product exists is because she have both skill sets.

    Other than the creation of the product itself, I am fascinated by its potential in the future. Not only could qmilch help individuals suffering from severe skin allergies or irritation (whether that is due to disease or not), but the influence this product could have on textile production is huge. The cotton industry depends both on byproducts of oil and natural resources such as water. By eliminating the need for oil, keeping qmilch creation local, and using a fraction of the water used in cotton, qmilch revolutionizes the economics involved. I almost feel as though it is the clothing industry's answer to the slow food movement. My question now is how can this product encourage local markets? Will there be people willing to take a risk and create qmilch?

    I'm interested in seeing how this product plays out. I wonder if qmilch will have to be embraced by the high fashion industry before we start seeing it in commercial clothing. Regardless, this product is truly creative.

  3. Constantly hearing about the newest eco-friendly soap, water bottles, bags and clothes can get exhausting. Qmilch, however, seems to go beyond the often overworked and stretched idea of eco-friendly products, in the best way possible.

    Something creative should both solve a problem and be a novel idea. Anke Damaske’s solution to her father’s problem is remarkable. Who would have thought milk clothing could eliminate skin irritation? If qmilch can solve this problem, I believe it has the potential for a much larger impact than it has right now.

    Although milk clothing is not a wholly new idea, I feel like her attempt to make this a much more widespread clothing option constitutes novelty. Now, I’d just like to see some creativity in how to make this the next big thing. The product is creative even if the larger field has not come to realize the advantage of clothing made from milk.

    Part of creativity is also coming up with something unique and distinct. She solves some of the most perplexing questions I would have had, questions that would have prevented me from ever coming up with such an idea as qmilch. I am mind-boggled by the very idea that powdered milk can be used for clothing, then this clothing can be worn and stay intact when washed.

    Also, the cost adds another dimension to the product. This does not add or detract from its worthiness as a creative process and a creative product, but I find it fascinating. The video says qmilch costs less than silk but more than cotton. People are willing to pay for silk for it’s higher quality, so I feel many people would pay for qmilch for its quality, especially if it helps solve skin irritation.


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