Skip to main content

Material World: All That Glitters Is Sustainable

Material World is a weekly roundup of innovations and ideas within the materials sector, covering news from emerging bio-materials and alternative leathers to sustainable substitutes and future-proof fibers.

Stella McCartney

Cara Delevingne photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Annie Leibovitz / Vogue US

Stella McCartney debuted an exclusive creation on the April 2023 cover of Vogue: BioSequins, a biodegradable and non-toxic material innovated from plant-based cellulose, using no metals, minerals or synthetic pigments or colorants.

Collaborating with Radiant Matter, a startup developing a new generation of color and material solutions for the circular economy, brings LVMH-owned label one step closer to its sustainable goals. Since 2010 Stella McCartney has been a PVC-free brand, including the sequins it uses in its collections. Radiant Matter uses cellulose derived from wood to create a natural iridescence for its glitter without using petroleum or metals.

“I am amazed by the iridescent beauty of our BioSequin all-in-one—handcrafted in my London atelier from plant-derived, non-toxic sequins that are even more stunning than conventional options,” McCartney said. “Who says sustainability can’t be sexy?”

Related Stories

The BioSequin jumpsuit, donned by model Cara Delevingne and photographed by Annie Leibovitz, is not yet commercially available but showcases the potential of Radiant Material’s innovation.

“We have loved Stella McCartney’s uncompromising approach to sustainability and aesthetics, which are reflected in any decision, down to the fabric and thread choice, resulting in a stunning yet fully plant-derived garment,” Elissa Brunato, founder of Radiant Matter, said.


H&M’s latest collection from the Innovation Stories platform, a ‘60s-tinged offering that focuses on more sustainable embellishments with hand-worked mini dresses and coordinated sets thanks to 100 percent recycled-content sequins, rhinestones and beads. Courtesy

H&M’s latest collection from the Innovation Stories platform is a 60s-tinged offering focusing on sustainable embellishments.

“This collection celebrates the wonder of the natural world with beautifully embellished looks designed to delight,” Ella Soccorsi, assortment designer at H&M, said. “Not only are they dazzling from a fashion perspective, but they represent a milestone in more sustainably sourced embellishments, something we’ve worked hard to improve over the last eight years.”

Key pieces in the collection comprise a series of minidresses rendered in recycled polyester and sequins made from recycled PET plastic bottles and rhinestones and beads made from recycled plastic display boxes and shelves. Utilizing post-consumer materials, the collection features recycled PMMA, coming from building materials like plexi shelves and boxes, as well as recycled PCTG, which comes from kitchen appliances like dishwashers and blenders. These materials are sourced from pre-existing supplier relationships. 

“With this collection we wanted to focus on the progress H&M has made with recycled-content embellishments,” Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M, said. “It’s always important to take a long-term perspective when it comes to sustainability, while at the same time agitating for change. Increasing the recycled content of the sequins, beads and rhinestones to 100 percent in this collection represents years of hard work and collaboration between multiple teams at H&M, and we know it will have a big impact on future collections.”

When consumers are done with these garments (or any garments, for that matter), they can take their items to any H&M location, where the Swedish retailer will recycle the clothes (or any textiles) for its customers. About 55 percent of the collected garments go into secondhand use, while the remaining half is either broken down by materials for further use or put into fiber-to-fiber recycling. 

“Sustainability isn’t a drag; it drives innovation,” Abi Kammerzell, H&M North America head of sustainability, said. 


Designed to be worn during training, the in-built tech and material DNA help provide responsive control as soon as the body starts to move. Courtesy

Adidas has joined forces with Rheon’s new era of material performance to introduce all the latest Adidas Techfit Control apparel range, fusing Adidas’ material constructs with Rheon’s intelligent polymer.

Born out of a NASA project and developed for more than 15 years at Imperial College, London, Rheon technology is defined as an energy-absorbing super-polymer that is strain-rate sensitive, meaning it remains soft and flexible in its natural state but stiffens when subjected to force.

Strips of the strain-rate sensitive polymer are strategically placed across major muscle groups to provide the athlete with responsive support when moving. These strips react to the body to provide support and are made to control muscle movement.