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LVMH, Fendi Eyeing Lab-Grown Fur

In conjunction with Earth Day, LVMH, Fendi, Imperial College London and Central Saint Martins University Arts London announced a research-driven collaboration to prototype new bio-textiles that could replace animal-derived fur.

The two-year research initiative will develop new lab-grown fur fibers for luxury fashion. For the first time, keratin will be the focus of a study to develop a fiber capable of mimicking a range of luxury materials, including fur, LVMH noted.

The collaborators said to sustain and regenerate the environment, it is essential to learn from the biological world and explore new ways of working with micro-organisms and living systems. LVMH, including Fendi, and Central Saint Martins, have made a commitment to develop research in regenerative luxury through their partnership.

The new collaboration with Imperial College London brings together the expertise of its Professor Tom Ellis in synthetic biology and Central Saint Martins’ Professor Carole Collet in biodesign to grow novel functional biomaterials for luxury.

“The LVMH Life 360 environmental strategy integrates a research and innovation program dedicated to sustainable luxury,” said Hélène Valade, environmental development director for LVMH, which owns labels including Christian Dior, Stella McCartney, which has already explored bio-based fur alternatives, and Givenchy. “Inventing new materials, new regenerative practices and new technologies will enable our maisons to achieve their climate and biodiversity ambitions. We are pleased that the Central Saint Martins-LVMH program dedicated to regenerative luxury, Maison/0, set up in 2017, leads to concrete results such as this initiative.”

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Carole Collet, professor in design for sustainable futures at Central Saint Martins and director of Maison/0, the Central Saint Martins-LVMH creative platform for regenerative luxury, said biodesign research is a means to explore alternative futures and transition to new models of production informed by how biology works.

“Learning from Nature, and working at the intersection of design and biotechnology research, is key to the exploration of such future-facing innovation,” Collet said. “I am, therefore, delighted to collaborate with our Maison/0 partner, LVMH, as well as Fendi and Professor Tom Ellis at Imperial College London to prototype a like-for-like alternative lab-grown fur fiber for luxury.”

Imperial College London’s Ellis said the industry’s understanding of biological materials and how they are made by nature has increased dramatically in the past decade.

“It is now the perfect time to initiate the idea of designing fibers for fashion made sustainably from microbes,” he said. “It’s exciting to begin this new collaboration with luxury leader LVMH and globally recognized fashion brand Fendi, and a world-leading expert in biodesign, Professor Carole Collet at Central Saint Martins.”

As part of the Life 360 initiative, last week LVMH Beauty and Origin Materials Inc. created a strategic partnership to develop sustainable low-carbon footprint packaging for the perfumes and cosmetics industry, with potential applications from apparel to toys.

The agreement calls for LVMH to purchase sustainable, carbon-negative polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from Origin Materials for use in packaging for the Beauty division. PET produced using Origin technology is functionally identical to petroleum-based PET, but with a dramatically lower carbon footprint since it is made from sustainable wood residues that capture carbon, according to Origin.