Style X Innovation: GANNI Partners with Modern Synthesis on Bou Bag made by Bacteria

–by Katya Moorman

No Leather. No Plastic. Great Style. Modern Synthesis’ biotextile is naturally animal and plastic free and offers a desirable alternative to virgin leathers and plastic-based synthetics

full image of The Modern Synthesis x Ganni Bou Bag.
The Modern Synthesis x Ganni Bou Bag.

The GANNI Bou Bag debuted at the “Ganni Butterflies” show, during Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23 and quickly became a cult favorite. With a playful hexagonal shape, a sophisticated braided strap design, and a subtle metallic “Butterfly” logo it embodies Ganni’s signature cool and contemporary Scandinavian style. It also reflects GANNI’s commitment to better materials.

Until now, the bag was available in either certified recycled leather or “Ohoskin,” a leather alternative developed in Italy and made from the waste generated by orange and cacti farming combined with recycled plastics.
While those are better than virgin leather, this new material by Modern Synthesis, a biotech company at the forefront of sustainable material innovation, is a biotextile and true game changer.

The Modern Synthesis x Ganni Bou Bag marks another critical step in Ganni’s quest to redefine responsible luxury by championing innovation in materials. Working with Modern Synthesis to reimagine the ‘Bou’ further underscores their commitment to phasing out virgin leather from GANNI products by 2023. A decision they came to after discovering that virgin leather was the single biggest polluter despite only making up seven percent of Ganni’s collections.

The bag is center stage at the Material Matters fair, showing from September 20-23 during the highly anticipated London Design Festival.

By presenting this one-of-a-kind piece at London’s leading design festival, both Modern Synthesis and Ganni show what’s possible for biomaterials commercially and indirectly challenge other brands to rethink their use of toxic materials.

We chatted with Jen Keane, the Co-Founder and CEO of Modern Synthesis to learn more

How did this collab with GANNI happen?

We have been in conversation with GANNI for a year about a commercial partnership. When the opportunity to showcase at a major industry event like Material Matters at London Design Festival presented itself, we asked them if they’d like to collaborate. They were enthusiastic about using our bacterial cellulose-based biotextile in a pilot prototype of one of their most iconic silhouettes, the Bou Bag, as part of their Fabrics of the Future initiative.

These one-off showcase pieces are pivotal in evaluating a material’s workability and appeal to both designers and consumers – which paves the way for its eventual integration into everyday fashion. It also allows us to test our compatibility as partners and we’re pleased to say our companies are now jointly working to make this bag commercially available by early 2025.

The process of making the material which Jen refers to as a collaboration with bacteria

What is the end-of-life of a Bou Bag made from your biomaterial –and does the material have a name?

Our materials are made with nanocellulose – a fully cellulosic material made from microbial fermentation – that research supports is safely biodegradable at the end of life and has the potential to be recycled depending on the use-case. As you can see, there are components of this Bou Bag that are made of metal etc. which would mean the bag would have to be disassembled and each material component treated according to respective specifications.

Through all of our partner collaborations, such as this handbag made with GANNI, we aim to optimize the material’s properties for the useful life of the product it is used in to deliver on the quality customers expect with lower impact to the planet.

The material used in this Bou Bag is just one variation of thousands of different materials we can make with our patent-pending technology. We look forward to sharing more next year about our first commercial ready material as it gets closer to launch.

Do you know if the goal with GANNI is to eventually make the bag exclusively in this material? (which would be amazing)

We agree that would be amazing and we are working towards being able to displace as many animal and petrochemical based materials with our material technologies as possible. However, we acknowledge that our materials exist in a budding ecosystem of biobased and biofabricated materials, which will hopefully work in harmony to create a much more sustainable future for the fashion industry as a whole.

We commend GANNI on being forward-thinking advocates for lower impact textiles and for actively trying to reimagine their iconic Bou Bag in several different low impact materials, like Ohoskin.

GANNI and Modern Synthesis are jointly working to make this bag commercially available by early 2025

Close up of material by Modern Synthesis.
Close up of the material made with nanocellulose. Don’t think “faux leather” but completely new material.

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