Meet 2 Biomaterial Startups Cultivating a Circular, Climate-Friendlier Fashion Industry

Published by
Sustainable Brands
December 12, 2022

Orange Fiber and Keel Labs are platforms for exploration and innovation that can reverberate across the fashion industry and prove that sustainable feedstocks and production processes can create both financial and planetary prosperity.

Founded in 2017 as AlgiKnit by Fashion Institute of Technology grads Tessa Callaghan and Aleksandra Gosiewski, the company recently rebranded as Keel Labs — and says it is seeking to establish itself as a ‘platform and parent’ for innovation that places community and nature at its center.  Keel Labs produces its Kelsun yarn from an abundant biopolymer found in kelp called alginate — creating a versatile, drop-in solution for existing yarn and textile production methods. Kelp — a large, brown, fast-growing seaweed — is also a carbon-sequestering powerhouse that can absorb more CO2 per acre than land forests, making it a valuable tool in the climate fight while it cleans up the fashion industry.

With a $2.4 million infusion in bridge financing in 2021, Keel Labs expanded to North Carolina and opened an innovation hub designed to enhance technological development whilst scaling production of its aquaculture-based yarn. Then, earlier this year, the company scored another $13 million in Series A funding — led by Collaborative Fund with additional support from Starlight Ventures, Third Nature Ventures, H&M CO:LAB, SOSV and Horizons Ventures — which Keel Labs says it will direct toward reducing the textile industry's carbon footprint.

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