IFM helps produce world-first for sustainable fashion

The Institute for Frontier Materials has helped to produce a world-first – a garment made from 100 percent tree-free and forest-friendly lyocell fibre and designed by Australian fashion designer Lee Mathews.

The NullarborTM lyocell fibre was created by Nanollose, a bio-materials company focused on commercialising scalable technology to create fibres and fabrics with minimal environmental impact, in collaboration with leading man-made cellulosic fibre manufacturer Birla Cellulose.

The garment that features the innovative fabric was unveiled last week at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen – a leading international forum for sustainability in fashion and fosters industry collaboration to drive positive impact.

The 100 per cent Tree-Free Nullarbor fibre was made at its research and development facilities in India and spun into yarn by the Institute for Frontier Materials using standard industrial yarn making equipment, supported by ANFF.

‘We are delighted to see fruitful outcomes of our direct engagement with Nanollose and are excited to provide more opportunities to continue this collaboration and advance this initiative through the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres,’ says Professor Joselito Razal, the director of the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres.

The resulting Nullarbor yarn spun by IFM was provided to Victorian knitwear developer, Knovus, who made two copies of the Lee Mathews designed garment and sample swatches using the latest zero-waste 3D knitting technology.

The process demonstrated that Nullarbor lyocell fibre integrates seamlessly with existing industrial equipment to produce high-quality garments.

Dr Dylan Hegh, manager of Circular Economy and the ANFF-Deakin Hub at IFM, says IFM’s involvement is the culmination of a long and deep partnership, combining Nanollose’s innovative sustainable fibres with the unique capability at IFM.

‘The showcasing of this important and impactful project on the international stage is a testament to the skilled team used to bring this project to fruition and an excellent example of successful multi-disciplinary collaboration to advance Circular Economy within Australia, of which IFM and ANFF is proud to be a part,’ Dr Hegh says.

The production and promotion of this 100% Tree-Free Nullarbor garment complements Nanollose’s first pilot production in February 2022 which led to the creation of 250kg of Nullarbor-20 Forest-Friendly fibre from a blend of 20% microbial cellulose and 80% conventional wood pulp and demonstrates the potential of the technology and resulting fibres.

Nanollose Executive Chairman Dr Wayne Best says Global Fashion Summit was the perfect setting to introduce its new Nullarbor garment, with the event attracting the brightest and most innovative in the fashion industry.

‘This is an exciting opportunity for Nanollose to showcase what can be achieved by designers and fashion labels incorporating our Forest-Friendly Nullarbor fibres,’ Dr Best says.

‘To this end Lee Mathews has incorporated several knits into the garment which highlight the properties and versatility of the fibre.

‘We are also delighted to be able to share this opportunity with our colleagues at Birla Cellulose who have been instrumental in the creation of the fibre.’