for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Dissolvable Clothing- Just Add Water!

The Daily Telegraph reports on the world’s first dissolvable dress, which they describe as the ultimate in disposable fashion. Created by two professors at the University of Sheffield; the award-winning designer Prof Helen Storey and leading chemist Prof Tony Ryan, the dress promotes new materials that can make consumer products less environmentally harmful.

‘The fabric is knitted from a clear polymer – polyvinyl alcohol – of the kind used in sachets that release detergent in washing machines. The dresses will dissolve and turn into a form that can be recycled as a bottle. However, they break down so slowly that they can survive a sweaty party.

“The dresses Helen has created are a metaphor for the
beautiful things we create and use but never really think about and just throw away,” said Prof Ryan.

“In your lifetime you throw away around 20 tons of packaging material. We want people to think about that. But it has made us think more seriously about science, too.” ‘


An exhibition focussed around the current throwaway society will be staged in Sheffield this autumn, backed by the Government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. During this, the dresses will be put to the test publicly- eight of them will be lowered into a giant goldfish bowl where they will disappear before your very eyes!

The dresses are decorated with cleverly designed flowers that slowly give off a dye when they dissolve, making them move around like sea anemones in the huge goldfish bowl.

“Each dress will behave differently,” said Professor Storey. “These flowers will chase each other around the bowl in a biological way.” The dyes set up massive differences in surface tension – the forces that make the water’s “skin”.

As a result, there will be “something extraordinary” to see in the giant bowls “as the dresses dissolve, chemically react and explode as they are lowered deeper into the bowls – and will no longer exist when the exhibition closes”.

An amazing idea- although with the current climate in the UK probably not the safest option for a night out. It’s almost worth travelling all the way to Sheffield for- I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future updates.

Filed under: creative ideas, products with a purpose,

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