Friday 21 February 2014

Totally Milking It

I never cease to be unboggled by the ingenuity and inventiveness of ethical fashionistas, but I have a new heroine. Allow me to present to you the incredible Anka Domaske. A fashion designer with her own successful business, Mademoiselle Chi Chi in Hanover, her clothes are a favourite of starlets like Mischa Barton and Ashlee Simpson.

But she's also a talented micro-biologist, who's created a new kind of eco-friendly fabric created from the most unlikely material. Her new bio-polymer is made from casein, a protein found in milk.

Every year, millions of gallons of raw milk has to be disposed of as unfit for human consumption. Up until now, there was little that could be done with it. But Anka's process converts milk proteins into a silky, luxuriant thread that she's pushing as the ideal solution to the massive amount of waste product that builds up in stockpiles around the globe.

Casein was used in fibre production in the 1930's, but it was a complex procedure that used a dangerous cocktail of chemicals. Anka's approach was to start again from scratch, using the most humble of resources. Her kitchen was her lab, and equipment was bought cheaply from kitchen supply stores.

From this unprepossessing start, something remarkable happened. Anka's company, QMilk, is accredited to the highest levels of safety and ethical standards, and is creating products that are environmentally friendly and taking waste out of the manufacturing cycle.

But what about the clothes? Well, QMilk is silken, and drapes beautifully when cut. It's hard-wearing, and long-lasting. The material suits floaty, fluid pieces, although Anka is reportedly working on a menswear collection.

If, like me, you thought milk only had a place in the kitchen, then it's time for a dose of education. Have a look at this video from German broadcaster Deutchse Welle, and prepare to have your mind blown in a very good way.

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