Instead of being shoved into a closet, Growable Gowns can be used as compost.
In a world where we are increasingly looking for ways to conserve funds and repurpose objects, the idea of spending $1200 and using 8 yards of fabric for a wedding dress that will only be worn once might seem a bit wasteful. It is, after all, a perfect example of a non-sustainable item. Since most women have dreamed of that gown since childhood, however, it isn’t very likely that these single use dresses will go out of production any time soon. One bride refused to be confined by tradition. Holding fast to the idea of the wedding dress, but keeping the environment in mind, she sought out to create a wedding dress that was not only beautiful, but also ecologically responsible, and by all means was successful.
Erin Smith was both a grad student in New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and a bride-to-be. Because ITP’s mission is to explore new ways to use communications technologies, she was encouraged to investigate how to rework and remodel objects that outlive their intended use. For her wedding Smith wanted to make decisions she could later be proud of, and when the time came to come up with a thesis project she thought of Growable Gowns.
Growable Gowns is a project that allowed Smith to construct a wedding gown made of bacteria, fungi, and other biodegradable resources as materials. Brides can grow the gowns themselves in about a week, then use as fertilizer after the big day. The dresses are made out of a wearable plant matter mixture of tree mulch and microscopic mushrooms, called mycelium. The fungi are linked together to become a sheet of living fabric that is molded into shape, and then baked to stop the growth. Like all plants, the gown is completely biodegradable, and can be used to support new life in a garden after deterioration.
Growable Gowns is not the first use of biomaterials in garment construction, but because of the significance of the wedding gown, it is sure to to shine a new light on this kind of fashion design for those aiming to be more environmentally friendly. In addition to aiding in reducing the amount of linen waste, Smith says she hopes her project will inspire other women to grow their own sustainable gowns.