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Aalto University team designs sustainable gown

24
Dec '18
Jenni Haukio (right), with President Sauli Niinistö, in the evening gown made of 100% birch-based Ioncell fabric. Courtesy: Alto University/Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva
Jenni Haukio (right), with President Sauli Niinistö, in the evening gown made of 100% birch-based Ioncell fabric. Courtesy: Alto University/Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva
Scientists at Aalto University have developed a sustainable process called Ioncell and used it to produce an evening gown from Finnish birch trees. Jenni Haukio, spouse of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, donned the sustainable gown to begin the holiday season and mark the Nordic nation’s 101 years of independence at Helsinki’s Presidential Palace.

From fibre to yarn and fabric to final product, a diverse team of researchers, experts, and students made the gown a reality on Aalto University’s campus.

A process developed at Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, Ioncell aims to change the way clothes are made. It creates quality textile fibres from a range of raw materials, including wood, recycled newspaper or cardboard, and old cotton textiles. Unlike environmentally demanding cotton or viscose—the most common wood-derived fibre despite use of toxic chemicals in its production—Ioncell fibre is an ecological alternative that can also be recycled. It also makes an excellent material for clothing.

“Fabric made from Ioncell is soft to touch. It has a lovely sheen and falls beautifully. Most importantly, it’s an environmentally sustainable option,” says Pirjo Kääriäinen, professor of Practice at Aalto University.

The team comprising students and experts in wood processing, chemistry, engineering as well as textile and fashion design is currently producing small batches of trial fibres and materials, like those used in Jenni Haukio’s dress.

Finland’s long-held respect for nature and history of gender equality inspired the dress designers, part of Aalto’s internationally renowned fashion, clothing and textile design programme.

“In the design I’ve combined Finnish traditions while at the same time looking to the future. I took inspiration from strong Finnish women, who are represented in the dress’ minimalist features and clear lines. The dress is a promise of an even brighter future,” explains Emma Saarnio, who studies fashion and clothing design. She designed the dress with fabric carefully created by Helmi Liikanen, a student of textile design.

While Ioncell technology is still at the research stage, Haukio’s gown is not the first time Ioncell products have been seen at state events. French President Emmanuel Macron received an Ioncell scarf made of old blue jeans when he visited Aalto University in August 2018.

Plans are in motion to have an Ioncell pilot production line by 2020. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


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