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Milk does a body good -- even when worn

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Published : Nov. 16, 2011 - 10:53

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The 28-year-old German is the designer of an award-winning new textile made entirely from milk that's environmentally friendly as well as soothing to people with skin allergies. Called “Qmilch,” it drapes and folds like silk, but can be washed and dried like cotton.

 

In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, model Britta presents a dress designed by German fashion designer Anke Domaske in Hannover, Germany. Domaske, 28, is the designer of an award-winning new textile made entirely from milk that's environmentally friendly as well as soothing to people with skin allergies. Called In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, model Britta presents a dress designed by German fashion designer Anke Domaske in Hannover, Germany. Domaske, 28, is the designer of an award-winning new textile made entirely from milk that's environmentally friendly as well as soothing to people with skin allergies. Called "Qmilch," it drapes and folds like silk, but can be washed and dried like cotton. (AP)


The biochemist and fashion designer has so far only used the fabric to make dresses for her own MCC fashion line. But next year Domaske has plans to begin mass producing _ and several companies have already expressed interest in using the fabric.

Qmilch _ a combination of quality and the German word for milk _ won the innovation award of Germany's Textile Research Association, which recognized it as a new, sustainable fiber that could revolutionize the clothing industry.

Currently, apparel depends heavily on byproducts from oil, or natural resources such as water _ used in the thousands of liters (gallons) to produce just a bolt of cotton.

“We know that everything that is based on oil has a limit, that materials like cotton that take up a lot of land, water and chemicals are limited, so we need to think about how we in produce fabrics and textiles in the future,” said Klaus Jansen, who heads the Textile Research Association.

“She has showed us how this can work.”

Tatjana Berthold, a seamstress for Domaske's MCC fashion line has been cutting and sewing the fabric into dresses for the past year.

“At first I did not believe that it was made from milk, but when you work with it, you notice that it feels different from normal fabrics,” said Berthold. She cast Domaske a sly sideways glance, then confessed to have privately made a pair of pajamas from a scrap she had been given.

“When you look it, you can't see such a big difference, but when you wear it, you feel the difference,” Berthold said.

Domaske laughed, confessing that she, too, had sewn herself sleepwear from a sample of jersey fabric spun over the past year.

The quest for a natural, non-irritating fabric began after watching her stepfather suffer through terrible skin irritations while being treated for cancer. “There are so many people who really suffer just by wearing normal clothing. I wanted to find a way to help them.”

She focused her research on milk protein, or casein. Although textiles made with milk fibers have been around since the 1930s, she said most of them relied heavily on acrylics.

“I thought it must be possible to make a fabric that is completely organic,” said Domaske.

After two years of trial and error, working with a research lab, Domaske and her team of six finally landed on a process of reducing milk to a protein powder that is then boiled and pressed into strands that can be woven into a fabric.

The strands, she says, can be spun rougher for a heavier texture, or shiny smooth, to create a soft jersey that drapes and feels like silk.

She uses only organic milk that cannot be consumed because it has failed Germany's strict quality standards.

Domaske concedes that at (euro) 20 ($28) per kilogram (2 pounds), her fabric costs more to produce than even organic cotton, which goes for about 40 percent less. But she hopes local production will keep down transport costs and reduce the overall price.

She also notes that only 2 liters (a half gallon) of water is needed to produce 1 kilogram (2 pounds) of fabric, or enough to make several standard dresses. By comparison, the same amount of cotton requires more than 10,000 liters of water.

Lynda Grose, a consultant and associate professor at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, who specializes in ecologically responsible design, notes that the fashion industry is dependent on the idea of disposal, of people always wanting new designs.

“There is a tremendous amount of waste in the fashion world,” Grose said in a telephone interview. She noted that by rethinking how such waste can be used will help make the fashion and textile industry more ecologically friendly.

German industry has been impressed by Domaske's innovation.

The designer, who works from a loft beside the railway in the central German city of Hannover, has already received queries from automobile makers that see a potential for seat covers, and members of the medical and hospitality industries interested in a hypoallergenic material for hospitals and hotel beds.

“The German textile industry can only survive against the competition if it comes up with innovative, new products,” Jansen said. “Ms. Domaske has done this in taking a raw material and processing it to create a new thread that can be sold to other companies to create other products. That is very unique.”

 

<한글 기사>

우유를 입는다? 세탁 가능한 우유 섬유 첫선

친환경 소재의 옷이 주목받는 요즘, 우유로만 만든 섬유가 개발돼 일반 소비자들에게 첫선을 보일 예정이다.

독일의 생화학자이자 패션 디자이너인 앙케 도마스케(28)는 우유의 단백질에서 추출한 카제인으로 만든 섬유(Qmilch)를 활용, 내년에 대량 생산에 들어갈 계획이라 고 15일(현지시간) 밝혔다.

'Qmilch'는 영어의 '질(Quality)'과 독일어의 '우유(milch)'를 합한 말로, 도마 스케는 그동안 자신의 패션 브랜드 'MCC'의 드레스 소재로만 이를 활용했다.

이 섬유는 실크처럼 부드럽고 빨 수도, 말릴 수도 있다. 의류산업계에 혁명을 몰고 올 수도 있다는 점에서 독일섬유연구협회(GTRA)로부터 혁신상도 받았다.

이미 일부 자동차 제조사와 의료산업체가 좌석 시트나 침대 시트용으로 관심을 보이는 등 몇몇 회사에서 구입 문의를 하고 있다.

도마스케는 우유 섬유가 1930년대부터 개발됐지만 아크릴 비중이 컸다면서 화학 제품이 아닌 "유기 제품만으로 섬유를 만들 수 있다고 생각했다"고 개발 취지를 설명했다.

그는 "화학섬유에 알레르기가 있는 사람들에게도 도움이 될 것"이라고 말했다.

그는 6명으로 팀을 꾸려 2년간의 연구 끝에 우유를 단백질 가루로 만들어 끓인 뒤 압력을 가해 섬유로 만들었다고 소개했다.

현재 ㎏당 생산가격이 20유로 정도로 일반 섬유보다는 비싸지만 대량생산이 이뤄지면 비용이 줄어들 것으로 예상하고 있다.