Normal Phenomena of Life debuts a jacket made with bacteria

Together with

The Future. Biotech fashion brand Normal Phenomena of Life (NPOL) is using synthetic biology to create one-of-a-kind clothing. It’s not just a greener way to make luxury pieces but also a comment on the indistinguishability of mass-produced clothing. As the fashion industry wrestles with its emissions, products from cutting-edge companies like NPOL or innovative mainstays like Patagonia could add more variety and sustainability to consumers’ closets.

“Grown to order”
The UK-based NPOL is taking fashion back to the lab.

  • NPOL’s signature product is the almost $5,000 Exploring Jacket, which was colored using the bacteria Streptomyces coelicolor.
  • Each jacket is unique due to the nature of bacterial fermentation, creating unpredictable designs because of how the bacteria reacts with the fabric.
  • The jacket (and NPOL’s entire collection) has a lower carbon footprint than traditional clothing because less water is needed in the dyeing process and less farmland is required.

NPOL is a joint partnership between biodesign research studio Faber Futures and biotech firm Ginkgo Bioworks, with the hope of being a collaboration between design and biology. To that end, the company had to build the entire supply chain to turn microbes into fashion — there’s just no precedent for it. That’s why the clothing is so expensive right now.

But by building it out, NPOL may also become the underlying logistics platform for other companies with similar ambitions. And with that expansion, hopefully the prices drop, too.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


No design skills needed! 🪄✨

Canva Pro is the design software that makes design simple, convenient, and reliable. Create what you need in no time! Jam-packed with time-saving tools that make anyone look like a professional designer.

Create amazing content quickly with Canva