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Design to Fade

the first sports collection dyed by bacteria

After more than 3 years of research with Kukka’s biodesign project Living Colour, we teamed up with PUMA Innovation to lead the way to a zero-waste future and a new aesthetic.

By designing and dyeing products with pigmented bacteria we reinvent the way we make sportswear and minimise the negative effects on the environment.

The bacteria are responsible for a portion of the design and manufacturing, which involves no toxic chemicals. We use natural occurring bacteria that feed off nutrients and ferment these into pigments. The bacteria are cultivated on the textile itself, while dyeing it at the same time.

This live dyeing process leaves visible growth patterns on the fabric that are unique to each dye batch. To dye fabrics in an even colour the pigment is extracted from the bacteria and used as a dye.

The collection consists of six garments, based on PUMA’s iconic archive styles – like the T7 jacket, the retro running shorts and the windbreaker jacket – socks and shoes. We deconstructed the patterns and started designing new looks.

For this collection we were also inspired by the Red-backed Salamander. The bacteria we use protect this salamander from a deadly fungus. We used the fluid shapes of the salamander combined with gender neutral silhouettes.

Made from a variety of moisture wicking synthetics and natural fibres like silk and hemp, the collection shows the many dyeing possibilities.

Same as in nature, the colour of the textiles change with the seasons of the garment or shoe, enhancing the uniqueness of each garment and the activity of the wearer.

“If we take examples out of nature
and learn to see its value,
we can organise our manufacturing process
as a well functioning ecosystem.”

Puma Innovation x Living Colour
Puma Innovation x Living Colour
Puma Innovation x Living Colour
Puma Innovation x Living Colour
Puma Innovation x Living Colour
Puma Innovation x Living Colour

Design to Fade is part of PUMA’s yearly biodesign exhibition at Milan Design Week, in which the company is presenting new ways to reduce the environmental impact of fashion and sportswear. Though none of these projects have yet reached a commercial stage, they are an important step towards making PUMA more sustainable in the future.

Puma Innovation x Living Colour
Puma Innovation x Living Colour

photo and video credits: Ingo Foertsch, lab collaboration with Rotterdam UAS
models: Marvin Opana and Luna