An Italian start-up is less Miu Miu and more Moo Moo as it revives a century old tradition of turning waste milk into T-shirts.
Innovative commodity expert Antonella Bellina started DueDiLatte after believing there must be a better way of treating sour milk than just pouring it down the sink.
Along with co-founder Elisa Volpi, the pair began collecting leftover milk from food production companies, before using bio-engineering techniques to extract casein.
Having created fibres from the protein, they then create graphic T-shirts and children’s clothing which are sold online.
Antonella, from Pisa, said: “Every morning, I wanted to have breakfast with coffee and milk, but I realized that the milk had expired.
“So, I asked myself: why, instead of throwing it, do not turn it into something else, maybe a natural fabric?”
Milk fibre was first discovered in Italy in the 1930s by engineer Antonio Ferretti, who called it Lanital.
It partly replaced wool until the 1960s when synthetic fibres, made from petroleum, came to the fore.
However, it is making a return because the process only uses less than two litres of water to produce one kilogram of fibre, fitting in with a more environmentally friendly world.
Elisa said: “Its thanks to a process that extracts casein, which is milk’s most important protein.
“It’s actually almost a 100-year-old process.
“Bio-engineering techniques provide a very low level of chemical compounds.
“These processes require less water than other fabrics.
“When considering CO2 emissions, it’s much better.”
The process transforms the casein molecules from small spheres of a blackberry, which disband and re-arrange themselves on a line.
They are dried to become powder and using wet spinning this generates a small bubble-like icing sugar.
Weaving obtains the fabric that is then purged from the raw processing, through a detergent-free washing and finished to a classic milky white, light and soft appearance.
Antonella said: “Our garments don’t smell of milk but, because they are free of chemical treatments or bleaching, they nourish the skin.
“Each phase of the process is entrusted to the best workers and packaging workshops in Tuscany.
“Every detail is monitored to keep the casein alive and active, to give the skin moisturizing properties for the skin and a thermoregulatory power.”