A bio-engineered bodysuit could handle unpleasant body-odor with micro-organisms woven into its fibers.
Named “Skin II,” the leotard-like piece of clothing incorporats live, healthy probiotic bacteria that, when activated by perspiration, can diminish personal odors, help skin cells regenerate and improve our immune system.
“It’s not the sweat on your body that causes body odor, it’s the bacteria,” designer Rosie Broadhead told Reuters in an interview. “So we’ve incorporated healthy bacteria into the textiles to enable a healthy microbiome which will help to reduce your body odor,”
With her probiotic fabric, Broadhead hopes to revolutionize the interaction between fabric and skin. Other than its health (and social life!) aspects, she’s also keen on the environmental impact of her invention:
“My project offers an alternative to chemicals such as antibacterial finishes on clothing and cosmetics,” Broadhead says, “Due to the deodorizing effect the probiotics have on the body, it may reduce the amount of time you need to wash your clothes.”
Our modern life fixation on cleanliness makes it hard for “good” micro-organisms to survive, so Skin II is a big opportunity for sustainable fashion.
Probiotics are living micro-organisms that are beneficial to our bodies when in sufficient amounts. Probiotics are found naturally in some foods, like yogurt, and, surprisingly, pickles, but you can also take them as dietary supplements.
Broadhead collaborated with Belgian microbiologist Chris Callewaert of Ghent University to develop the fabric. Callewaert has done extensive research on the causes of body odor, and he provided her with probiotic bacteria. This bacteria are found on our skin and are different from the digestive system bacteria we all know from food products.
“A lot of focus is on the fashion industry’s unsustainable practices concerning waste and environmental impact,” says Broadhead, “However, much less is known about the use of chemical finishes on our clothing that can impact our bodies.”
She wanted to create clothing that was good for the skin, but has a minimal impact on the environment, “which meant using technology that had a deodorizing effect. By working with probiotics that are common on our skin I have developed ways to add function and performance to our clothing in a natural way.”
Broadhead and Callewaert plan to market Skin II with a full sportswear line, and in this heat – we just can’t wait for it to hit the shelves :-)