Elissa Brunato

MA Material Futures, Creative Review Innovation Award , 2019

Elissa Brunato

In an attempt to combat the reliance on unsustainable material options in the fashion industry, Elissa Brunato worked alongside scientists to create sequins using naturally abundant materials.
Within the current fashion and textiles system, the embroidery industry is limited by unsustainable material options and a lack of innovation. Shimmering beads and sequins are industrially made from plastic or synthetic resins. Their use and disposal impose a huge environmental problem and contribute largely to the micro-plastic issue that the planet is currently facing. Looking into consumer patterns on a mass scale, it is impractical for embroidery to be recycled from its base fabric, consequently these tiny plastic components are sitting in landfill and entering our environment through our waste streams.


It is the optimal moment to re-envision the origin of materials that are currently petroleum-derived to initiate a more circular textile economy. Working alongside material scientists from RISE Research Institutes, I created sequins that use wood’s ability to form structures that refract light. In this way, it is possible for this ‘future sequin’ to shimmer naturally without added chemicals. It is an entirely new way to approach colour and finishes within the fashion and textiles industry.

Bio Iridescent Sequin finds an answer in the research of bio-technologies capable of harnessing naturally abundant materials to create shimmering structural colours. By extracting the crystalline form of cellulose, the wood-originating matter can imitate the alluring aesthetics of beetle wings. The material remains lightweight and as strong as plastic yet it is compostable.

Re-imagining the landscape of available materials that we have on this earth allows for safer and more environmentally sustainable approaches to shimmering colour. These approaches have the potential to outshine the previous options in a way that is more forward-thinking and innovative.

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