In mid-May, history was made at the Marimekko’s textile printing factory in Helsinki, when a biodegradable fabric made from birch cellulose with the Ioncell solvent method went into the printing machine. The printed fabric was woven in Lohja at Luksia (the Western Uusimaa Municipal Training and Education Consortium) and in the Marimekko textile printing factory it was decorated with the Tiara pattern designed in 2014 by Erja Hirvi.
The Ioncell method used in the manufacture of the fabric’s fibres was developed in partnership between Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, and Marimekko has been part of the project since 2013. Thanks to the new type of solvents used in the Ioncell method the end-product fibre is stronger than viscose. Cellulose fabric produced by this method has previously been used for the Allu dress, which Marimekko unveiled at a fashion show in 2014.
Ville, who works at the Marimekko textile printing factory, says the wood-based fabric behaved in printing just like any other material.
“It handled like any conventional fabric, but naturally you always have to find the right settings for the fabric when you’re printing a new grade. This time it made me a little nervous because only a limited amount of this valuable fabric was available to be printed. Everything had to be on the button,” Ville says.
Ongoing search for more ecological materials
Discovering more ecologically benign materials and recycling textiles are currently hot topics in the clothing industry. Marimekko aims to boost the proportion of more ecological materials in its collections and the company works tirelessly to identify more responsible and ecologically more benign raw materials.
“We are constantly seeking more sustainable materials and it’s great to be in on an interesting project like this. There is a demand for more ecological materials and we hope the development projects will advance in the future into industrial-scale manufacturing. We also encourage our designers to seek ecological and recyclable alternatives when they check out materials. For example, the summer 2016 collection includes the Stripe woven fabric series, which is made from textile industry waste materials,” says Marimekko’s Creative Director Anna Teurnell.