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Beer wear: Dress made from bacterial-fermented brew

Bacteria, beer and a fermentation process come together to create a fashionable dress made from a new kind of fabric.

Beer Dress
This dress started with a cold one. Nanollose

You see the dress. It's fun, flouncy and bouncy with a fitted top and an exuberant puff of fabric at the bottom. It looks like it came from some young, hip fashion designer. But this dress has a secret. The fabric didn't come from some high-end store catering to Parisian clothing makers. It came from beer.

The Beer Dress is made from fabric produced by a bacterial-fermentation process. Scientist Gary Cass and visual artist Donna Franklin previously collaborated on a fermented-wine dress in 2012. That dress had a distinctive look to it, like it was made from Fruit Roll-Ups. The wine dress looked strange, slightly alien. The Beer Dress looks more like what we recognize as typical fabric, despite its unusual origin. You wouldn't know where it came from if someone didn't tell you.

The design of the beer dress is inspired by the flower of the hop plant. "Unlike the wine dresses, the new Beer Dress has no smell and greatly improved flexibility, with fibers that are chemically similar to cotton," reads a press release. Cass hopes the advancements will make the material, called Nanollose Microbial Cellulose, commercially viable.

As the wine dress demonstrated, the fermentation process can be used to grow a seamless one-piece garment. Cass is working on improving both the strength and flexibility of the Nanollose fabric and would like to see it become an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of agriculture-intensive fabrics like cotton.

The Beer Dress will be on display at the World Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy. If Cass and Franklin succeed in turning Nanollose into a viable material, then we may some day be able to drink a cold brew while wearing clothes made from that same beer.

Beer Dress
From beverage to fashion. Nanollose