At the latest since well-known corporations such as Adidas and H&M invested in the Finnish fiber company Infinited, Finland has moved a bit closer to the center of the textile industry.
This is also the subject of an exhibition that opened in Berlin in July: ‘15 Wonders‘ presents material experiments and bold visions by fashion students from Helsinki-based Aalto University and sustainable material innovations by four Finnish textile and fiber companies.
The goal is to inform about ecological alternatives to conventional materials like cotton and help to solve the worldwide textile waste problem. The new technologies presented make it possible to produce textile fibers from agricultural waste, wood or textile waste in a responsible, circular way.
The designers featured in the exhibition are Rolf Ekroth, Leevi Ikäheimo, Anna Isoniemi, Ines Kalliala, Heidi Karjalainen, Tuuli-Tytti Koivula, Linda Kokkonen, Maria Korkeila, Emilia Kuurila, Julia Montin, Nomen Nescio, Anni Salonen, Anna Semi, Hanna-Maria Sinkkonen and Netta Törmälä.
The textile companies include Fortum/Bio2X, Spinnova, Ioncell and Infinited Fiber Company who introduce their recent material innovations:
Bio2X is an initiative launched by Fortum, using agro-residues to produce sustainable high-value products which can replace fossils and other environmentally detrimental raw materials. The biomass raw material is processed at the company's biorefineries using fractionation technology; this technology separates cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin into their own fractions with a material efficiency of up to 90%, according to Fortum. The raw material for Fortnum’s Bio2 textile fiber is a straw-fractionated cellulose, which is spun using a selected fiber technology.
Infinited Fiber Company is a fashion and textile technology group that became recently known for its innovation that turns cellulose-rich materials – think of worn-out clothes, used cardboard, or wheat straw – into Infinna, a textile fiber that is meant to look and feel as soft and natural as cotton. Infinna is biodegradable, contains no microplastics, and textiles made with it can be recycled by applying the same process.
The Ioncell technology developed by Aalto University and the University of Helsinki turns wood, textile waste, and recycled paper and cardboard into textile fiber. Ioncell has also researched the use of recycled hemp fiber as raw material for fabrics. The Ioncell process uses ionic liquid to dissolve cellulose, followed by a phase of air-gap spinning to produce the fibers. The process uses no harmful chemicals, only nontoxic ionic liquid and water. The fiber itself is biodegradable and has the soft touch of natural fiber, a silk-like gleam, and it is extremely tenacious even when wet.
Finally, Spinnova fiber is produced by mechanically grinding cellulose mass into micro fibrillated cellulose (MFC). Spinnova currently uses only FSC-certified wood pulp cellulose as raw material. Other suitable raw materials are textile waste containing cellulose, or agricultural waste such as wheat or barley straw. No harmful chemicals or solvents are necessary for the closed-cycle manufacturing process, and no waste stream is produced. According to Spinnova, the material can be recycled again and again through the same process after use, without reducing the quality of the fiber. Fiber produced with Spinnova’s technology is low in emissions and biodegradable, while the feel of the material resembles cotton or linen.
The exhibition, which is co-produced by Juni Communication and the Finnish Embassy in Berlin, with Aalto University as main content partner, takes place at Felleshus of the Nordic Embassies in Berlin and runs until 19 September.