CT DAIRY is a collection of biomaterial workwear coated with a self made, all natural, biodegradable, water-resistant rubber made from milk - the natural resource of one of the oldest industries in Connecticut.
Connecticut used to have a booming dairy industry that has recently suffered a decline due to the rising prices of milk production, insufficient governmental subsidies and a lack of younger generation farmers.
In order to find new revenue sources for small farms we questioned - can milk serve a function in other industries? can it function in fashion?
Casein (milk protein) was the predecessor to petroleum plastic- usually used as a hard plastic. Being a fashion designer I wanted to create a water resistant natural rubber from casein fitted to function in dairy industry.
The material and garments were made in collaboration with a small farm in Connecticut called Shaggy Coos. The milk protein was purified at our Connecticut studio and melted into the rubber coating. The milk rubber was then used in coating upcycled cotton t-shirts to create the biodegradable workwear collection made to measure the Shaggy Coos farm family. The cotton t-shirts were naturally dyed through a collaborative workshop conducted in the CT studio.
The accessories were made from personal vegetable food waste that was treated with a technique derived from tissue engineering called decellularization - meaning washing out the cell content from the vegetable until all that remains is the dead tissue scaffold. The scaffold is then naturally dyed with fruits and spices and finally immersed in salt solution to form naturally grown crystals. The result resembles a new type of gem made from food waste.
CT DAIRY exemplifies the circularity of material and concept. Just as the material, which came from a natural source, needs to safely return to nature so do the garments. They were created through a collaboration with the dairy community and ultimately are meant to serve that same community.