In a groundbreaking collaboration at the boundary of the fashion industry, Israeli material science company Balena, our portfolio company, has joined forces with renowned designer Kitty Shukman, formerly of YEEZY.
The result? A pair of 3D-printed slides known as ROOTS that are as eco-friendly as they are stylish.
The Game-Changing Material: BioCir
Born from Balena’s ingenuity, BioCir is the world’s first entirely compostable and biodegradable elastomer tailored for the fashion sector. This advanced compostable thermoplastic is flexible, soft, and most importantly, environmentally friendly, acting as a testament to Balena's commitment to curbing the carbon footprint of the industry.
The ubiquity of plastics and their carbon-heavy lifecycle poses a significant threat to our environment. However, with over 90% of plastics derived from fossil fuels, their incineration releases harmful greenhouse gases. Balena's BioCir emerges as a beacon of hope against this backdrop, offering a bio-based alternative that's fully compostable in industrial setups.
A Design Inspired by Nature
Kitty Shukman's design acumen, coupled with her time at YEEZY, has equipped her with a unique perspective on footwear. ROOTS isn’t just a shoe; it's an embodiment of nature. Shukman's inspiration for the slides derives from the intricate patterns of roots. The designs on the left and right shoes are intentionally different, enhancing the organic feel and creating a playful narrative of roots meandering across the feet.
Such a unique footwear vision from Shukman and Balena's technological prowess signifies more than just a fashion statement. It represents a fusion of fashion, tech, and a conscientious move towards the environment, setting the tone for the future.
A New Era of Sustainable Fashion
Balena’s journey in the sustainable fashion realm has been nothing short of remarkable. Their state-of-the-art in-house lab not only brings designs like ROOTS to life but showcases the endless possibilities with materials like BioCir™. With the capability to be used in varied manufacturing processes, from 3D printing to injection molding, BioCir™ stands as a testament to Balena's vision of a sustainable future.
David Roubach, Balena's CEO, succinctly captured the spirit of this collaboration, stating, "Partnering with Kitty to create a truly remarkable and circular product has underlined the magic that happens when you put the right material in the hands of the right designer." This initiative, he hopes, will inspire other major fashion players to tread the path of sustainability.
Kitty Shukman, reflecting on her collaboration, voiced her optimism for a sustainable future, envisioning a day when the fashion industry truly becomes circular.
“I continually strive to strike a balance between functionality, sustainability, and style, and working with the Balena team to envision this new design has helped me imagine a day when our fashion industry becomes truly circular. I hope to see 3D-printing continue to leave its mark as a unique, bold, and sustainable medium in the fashion industry on its way to becoming climate neutral.” - Kitty Shukman
Balena’s BioCir manufacturing process champions this sentiment. It’s scalable and versatile, capable of seamless integration across various industries and manufacturing methods.
Above all, it's a nod to the Earth. Every product crafted with BioCir promises a responsible end-of-life cycle, undergoing complete decomposition and biodegradation in industrial compost facilities.
Maria, Raw Ventures Investment Director, also weighed in on this sustainable shift in the industry, stating, "We believe that fashion is moving into a more personalised space, and this is a demonstration that sustainable and circular materials can be made into 3D filaments, used to make personalised footwear."
As we usher in an era where consumers crave distinctiveness, technological innovations like 3D-printing, AI-driven style recommendations, and virtual try-ons will play pivotal roles in crafting bespoke clothing experiences. Beyond mere aesthetics, the notion of sustainability will intertwine with personalization, allowing consumers to choose eco-friendly materials tailored to their preferences, ensuring that fashion not only mirrors one's identity but also one's values. This bespoke approach will revolutionise the industry, making the one-size-fits-all model obsolete and celebrating the uniqueness of each individual in a sustainable and tech-forward manner.
The Bigger Picture
Beyond the aesthetics and the technology lies a larger story: the fashion industry, notorious for its environmental footprint, stands on the brink of a sustainable revolution. Companies like Balena are not only challenging the status quo but showcasing a path forward, where fashion doesn't come at the planet's expense.
Innovation, collaboration, and a drive for sustainability have charted a course for a brighter, greener future. Balena and Kitty Shukman's collaboration is a page in this evolving story of change, an inspiring tale of what's possible when creativity meets responsibility.