A tee from the sea?
Morrisville, NC-based textile startup Keel Labs created just that, debuting this week the Kelsun T-shirt made from its flagship fiber derived from seaweed.
Keel Labs created the T-shirt to demonstrate Kelsun’s plug-and-play potential to replace conventional fibers used in the textile industry. The shirt, created using a 70% Kelsun/30% cotton blended yarn was made using industry-standard knitting machines. The jersey knit tee also features a pocket screen print made with algae ink from Living Ink.
“The Kelsun T-Shirt is fashion’s latest proof point that biomaterials are ready to revolutionize the industry at large,” said Tessa Callaghan, co-founder and CEO of Keel Labs. She added that the shirt is her company’s first in-house garment created using Kelsun, and it signals the beginning of more product and brand launches in the future.
Previously, Kelsun had been used by other designers, including Stella McCartney, who created knitwear and other high-fashion pieces with the sustainable fiber.
Keel Labs developed the Kelsun T-shirt in collaboration with climate activist and environmental educator Aditi Mayer, who noted that she prefers “nature-based solutions,” rather than the fossil fuels typically used to create synthetic fabrics. “Kelsun’s ability to create an option that integrates a renewable source and addresses fashion’s plastics problem, while also eliminating pesticide use and agricultural land use, is incredibly promising,” Mayer added.
Keel Labs is positioning Kelsun fiber as an alternative to conventional, resource-intensive materials like cotton. Producing Kelsun uses 70 times less water than cotton production and requires no land cultivation, since it uses renewable and regenerative seaweed. “By translating the abundant seaweed supply chain into fiber production on industry-standard equipment, Kelsun is a drop-in solution for textile supply chains that delivers positive impacts to an industry in urgent need of mitigating its environmental impact,” Keel Labs noted.
“This launch is about so much more than creating a T-shirt – it’s our mission come to life, offering the industry a product that can be produced at scale,” said Aleks Gosiewski, co-founder and chief operating officer of Keel Labs.
Keel Labs is part of a sustainable fashion renaissance that’s been happening in North Carolina in recent years, as businesses based there reclaim the state’s textile heritage with apparel recycling and material innovations like Kelsun fiber.
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