Future of Fashion: Innovative Dyeing Using Microorganisms – Pili

Future of Fashion: Innovative Dyeing Using Microorganisms - Pili Bio @ Amberoot

1) tell me what Pili is and how you create it?

At PILI we use microorganisms to fabricate colourful dyes at the most environmentally friendly labs ever. We literally biosynthesize dyes from sugar using fermentation processes without any nasty solvents or the need to heat at high temperatures. Once biosynthesized the pigments are filtered out leaving the microorganisms for further uses. We finally purify them so that they can be used in a wide range of industrial applications, especially in the textile industry, currently the second most polluting industry in the world! 

2) why are you doing Pili?

The whole team at PILI is dedicated to the same common goal – reduce pollution caused by the dyeing industry without loosing the joy that colours bring. In a nutshell – get out of the petroleum era! Plant-based dyes cannot satisfy the huge amounts of colours needed by the textile industry. For instance, if we were to produce all the indigo of the jeans by plant-based indigo we would then need to cultivate a field of the size of Germany! So we had to find a third way which is both environmentally friendly and scalable. We found the solutions in the microcosm lying on those precious and powerful cells that turns sugar into colours! Afterwards we worked very hard on making these processes even cleaner and cheaper. We have also just raised 3 Million USD to accelerate our development and scale faster. Exciting times ahead! 🙂

Future of Fashion: Innovative Dyeing Using Microorganisms - Pili @ Amberoot


3) what other projects in sustainable textiles and fashion space that you are excited about?

So many projects are changing the game in sustainable fashion nowadays!

In the biotech field, we are very excited about the creation of new fibers having great properties without harming any animals nor relying on vital ressources. One of these new biomaterial is the spidersilk made from microorganisms. We are also very interested in animal-free leather developed by Modern Meadow. All these technologies rely on the same biofabrication process that we are developing at PILI in our micro cell factories. We are also passionate about cleaning up the supply chains and making them healthier and fairer for workers. Veja is clearly one of the leaders showing the way. Another french company we love is Hopaal, which creates wardrobe basics using 100% recycled materials.

4) how do you see the future of fashion?

The future of fashion could be totally different from what we know today. There is technological innovation too. However, we need to change both the production and the consumption modes. That’s why we believe it’s crucial for consumers to understand what’s behind PILI’s technology. Once people learn about the generous gifts offered by microorganisms I am sure they would love this and support the shift toward this joyful and mindful way of living.

We need to stop being afraid of bacteria and microscopic living things: most of them are vital to our health, our own body hosts billions of them that help us digest, protects our skins and regulate all sorts of vital parameters. Instead, we could tell the stories of respect and long lasting partnership with nature. It’s absolutely fascinating and will bring new fibers, new colors, new clothes and a new fashion!

5) anything else you’d like to say about Pili/Pili team?

We like to say that diversity is key for a healthy ecosystem and that’s what we do at PILI: we have biology, chemistry, business and design working together in a beautifully balanced way! 

Another nice fact concerns the places that we work at because they are all very special places for colors historically:

-Toulouse (where we do the biology) became prosperous from the woad trade until the middle of the XVI th century. 

-The CNAM in Paris (where we do the green chemistry) has created the first chair of dyes chemistry. Then the synthetic dyeing era begun in the mid XIX-th century. A century and a half later, here we are, working on the next generation of colors. Beautiful, renewable and in a very near future affordable to everyone.

What do you think of Pili? Share your thoughts by tweeting us @Amberoot, or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Read this article in French here.

This article is part of series “Future of Fashion Series”:

AlgiKnit – Kelp Fibre,
Nanollose – Fabric From Microbial Cellulose,
Bolt Threads – Spider Silk & Mushroom Leather Mylo e,
Mango Materials – Biodegradable Polyester,
Mestic Fibre – Cow Dung Fibre,
Orange Fibre – Fibre From Orange Skins,
MycotTex – Mushroom Mycelium Fibre,
Zoa Leather – Bioengineered Animal Leather,
QMilk – Milk Fibre.
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