Chia seeds have had quite a revival of late. You see them in drinks and on shelves at health food stores. Once upon a time, they were primarily known for starring in late-night commercials for Chia Pets, small terracotta figurines of kittens and dogs with growable coats started from chia seeds. A designer has now taken that concept and applied it to a wearable vest.
Elizabeth Esponnette is an assistant professor of product design at the University of Oregon and she has created clothes made from unusual materials like hot-melt glue and crystals formed from evaporated alum salt.
The chia vest is made from chia and muslin. Esponnette cut the pattern from the muslin, laid it on saturated foam and planted chia seeds on it. She then sewed the sprouted fabric into the final vest design.
"This garment represents a symbiotic relationship between it and its user: the user needing oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide for respiration and the chia needing carbon dioxide in exchange for oxygen for photosynthesis," Esponnette writes.
The vest is part of a series of garments in what Esponnette is calling the "Wearables Collection." The collection asks people to think about why we're comfortable wearing materials like leather, but perhaps uncomfortable with unusual fabrics like glue or sprouts.
Another interesting entry in the series is a piece called "Cow." It's a leather jacket with a cow head on top and an Arduino-powered system that triggers an audible "moo" when the coat's lining is pushed together. The intensity of the "moo" ramps up based on how hard the jacket is pressed.
Esponnette's unusual concepts go beyond fashion and take us into an intriguing realm where clothes are not what they seem.