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LOPO Lab #9, Tuesday 30th May

It’s a Ma-tt-er of principle when it comes to the materials that make our clothes.

At the end of May, we were delighted to host Seetal Solanki as an inspiring speaker at our LOPO event on Clothing. Seetal is a Materials Conservationist and the Founder of Ma-tt-er, a research studio, platform and consultancy that explores materials, their past and their future potential.

“Everything is made of something” Seetal explains and Ma-tt-er’s mission is to challenge our preconceived ideas about the materials we know and love, by revealing their future potential.  To explain how transformative this really is, Seetal talked us through how Ma-tt-er’s research relates to the LOPO principles.

Here’s what we learnt.

We can have an unashamed Optimism of ambition:
We all know that the fashion industry could be a lot better than it is now. Pinatex, the company behind Livia Firth’s pineapple leather dress she wore at the Met Gala Ball, uses pineapple fibre leaves that would normally go to waste or be burnt – harnessing their potential as a high-performance textile for clothing. With the use of no extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides, this is: “quite the optimistic outlook for [a highly] polluting industry” Seetal said. And in turn, it creates additional income for pineapple farmers. Ma-tt-er carried out the original research and development leading to Piñatex™ in the Philippines. It begs the question: is it time to forget about cotton and start making textiles from Pineapple leaves, Banana stems and coconut husks? Read more here.

Involve yourself in projects that are bigger than you:
Around one billion people live in areas where access to fresh water is scarce and by 2025, two thirds of the world’s population may struggle to access enough clean water to meet their needs. How we make and manufacture our clothes uses a lot of water, from crop irrigation to wet processes in production, through to washing our clothes at home. It takes the equivalent of three years’ worth of drinking water (2,700 litres) to make just one cotton T-shirt (according to WWF). As part of a bigger project with Stella Artois and, Ma-tt-er looked into how materials can use no water in their making and manufacturing processes. Designer Natsai Audrey Chieza has created a textile collection using no water in a revolutionary dyeing process that uses bacteria to colour materials in a lab. A very sustainable and non-polluting technique that doesn’t harm waterways, soil or plants.

Engineer Serendipity:
At the Ma-tt-er studio, Seetal has created a materials library. Materials are organised by behaviour rather than type, which allows for serendipity as well as the engineering! Have a look here at the online version for the most surprising elements.

Commit to evidence = also known as ‘Think like an engineer, not a politician’:
Earlier this year, Provenance, Martine Jarlgaard, FIA (Fashion Innovation Agency) and A Transparent Company, collaborated at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit conference to demonstrate how blockchain technology is changing the future of fashion. Provenance provides transparency across the supply chain by allowing the user to understand exactly where their product was made, how it was sourced and who made it. Martine Jarlgaard showcased her blockchain-tracked garment at the Copenhagen Summit on 11th May as the world’s first garment using the technology to substantiate product provenance from the farm right through to finished garment. Each garment is assigned with a unique digital token, Provenance verifies every step of production, creating a digital history of verified information that combines location data, content and timestamps into an App consumers can access via the garment’s smart label.

The project shows, by using blockchain technology, it is possible to provide consumers with real evidence and radical transparency on the materials, processes and people behind the products we buy. Find out more here.

Play the long game… With some Mighty good undies!
To top the evening off, Hannah Parris from Mighty Good Undies pitched her fantastic social enterprise that’s restoring our faith in quality underwear that’s positively made and affordable. We’re looking forward to hearing what Hannah got from the LOPO crowd. Meanwhile, buy your pair of organic cotton, ethically and sustainably sourced fairtrade pants, here:

We also launched our very own Earthpositive™ LOPO t-shirts. They’re organic cotton, ethically made and climate neutral. Plus, they make you happy when you wear them (not always guaranteed but it’s worth a try!) There’s a limited print-run, email me at: if you’d like to buy one. £10 each.

There you have it LOPO: Clothing. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

Go on… you know you want to!

With LOPO love x