Read in 2 mins

Making ultra-customised fabrics with DNA technology

Werewool designs textile fibres with the desired features, like colour and water repellency, built-in on DNA level. Successfully eliminating the need to coat, dye or process a finished fabric. Winning the GCA 2020 fast-tracked their journey from scientific prototype to start-up.

Werewool’s journey began in 2018 when its founders realised that proteins were more than just building blocks for living systems, but also what provides colour, waterproofing and an array of other features to objects in nature.

The discovery propelled them to study proteins further and eventually lead to the develop-ment of a technique cross-linking performance proteins with bio-polymer feedstocks. In other words, a technique making it possible to create modified fibres for clothes that hold the qualities and features desired by a fashion designer already from DNA level.

Technology with the power to eliminate the chemicals and carbon-emitting processes required to dye, coat or create stretch in a finished fabric.

Just a year after discovery, Werewool applied and won the Global Change Award.

“It was a gamechanger for our team, taking us from an idea that was developing in an academic lab and allowing us to quickly grow into a start-up that was developing a product for the industry.”

Chui-Lian Lee, one of Werewool’s founders.

Aside from splitting a €1,000,000 grant with the four other GCA winners, Werewool took part in the one-year GCA Impact Accelerator programme, providing them with the tools to develop and scale up.

“The programme really covered all aspects of developing our idea into a company, helped our team go from being an early-stage idea and prototype into a business,” Chui Lian Lee explains. “The most valuable part was getting to hear the perspective of different stakeholders throughout the supply chain. It was truly a unique experience talking to potential manufacturers, cut and sew factories, yarn spinners, weaving mills. Getting their point of view and understanding their perspectives was invaluable for a company developing a new textile fibre.”

Today, Werewool is in a phase of rapid development, fine-tuning their prototype fibres to have the necessary qualities required to create performance textiles.

”We’re still developing our fibres and anticipate that we’ll see garments with our fibres in the next couple of years. However, creating a new fibre takes a lot of time. We are still fine-tuning our bio-fabrication process to meet industry needs and — more importantly — ensuring that products made from our fibres can fully degrade into building blocks for a healthy ecosystem,” says Chui Lian Lee.

Werewool won GCA in 2020
Founders: Chui-Lian Lee, Valentina Gomez, Morgana Kattermann and Theanne Schiros