The old saying says, “don’t cry over spilled milk,” but for a fashion house in Italy, “there’s money over spoiled milk.”
In Prato, Italy, an Italian fashion designer is creatively spinning spoiled milk into clothing. Antonella Bellina, 39, has developed a method of transforming milk protein into a silky fiber.
This creation was inspired five years ago while Bellina was having her morning coffee. She was troubled after opening her fridge and saw some spoiled milk, so instead of throwing it away, an idea sparked into her.
According to the Italian Agricultural Association, the country wastes over 30 million tons of dairy each year. With that significant amount of milk products put into the trash, Bellina’s Tuscany-based company called “Duedilatte” developed an eco-friendly alternative, making use of all the spoiled milk by collecting the expired dairies from local farms then turn it into enticingly soft clothing.
So how do Bellina and her team turn this spoiled milk into clothing?
The process began with the milk heated to precisely 122 degrees Fahrenheit then the citric acid will be added to separate the whey (the liquid part of milk) from the protein. During that stage, the milk produces a lumpy smell. The casein protein collected from the milk will be strained, dried and ground into powder. The final process includes a machine which looks like a giant cotton candy spinner will turn the powder into a fiber. Then it will be twisted and woven into a fabric.
Usually, one T-shirt takes less than half a gallon of milk to make. The final output is a soft fabric, without even a single hint that it’s made out of spoiled milk.
In the 1930s, milk fiber is invented as an alternative for wool during the Mussolini’s fascist era. However, the products depended on heavy chemicals, with factories using substances like formaldehyde to strengthen the fabric.
Today, Bellina has revolutionized the process. “Our fabric is now 100 percent chemical free; even our dyes are from natural sources like blueberries and red onion.”
This invention is another breakthrough in the world of fashion. According to experts, the fashion industry is one of the major contributors to pollution in the world. The United Nations (UN) also expressed concern over fashion houses which are responsible for producing 20 percent of global waste-water and 10 percent of global carbon emissions.
Duedilatte is the first in Italy that produces eco-friendly products. While the young company has seen steady growth, Bellina says it still does not give her enough profit. She now plans to expand into bedding and even medical products like bandages.
Professor Kate Fletcher, a specialist in sustainability at the London College of Fashion, described casein fiber as a significant step in a transition period for the fashion industry.
So far, Duedilatte’s range is only available in Italy, but the company aspires to enter the global fashion market later this year.