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On climb in Argentina, Human Material Loop tests prototype parka filled with human hair

Human Material Loop, a textile innovation company, just announced that it's testing its first high-performance clothing made using human hair. Instead of wool, down or synthetics, the prototype parka and pants are filled with human hair for insulation. They'll be worn by HML's co-founder Leonardo Avezzano on an expedition to Aconcagua, Argentina, where he'll be able to assess the material's thermal properties in a harsh mountain environment.

Zsofia Kollar and Avezzano founded Human Material Loop to create textiles that have zero negative impact on the environment: "no animal cruelty, no water pollution, no soil degradation, no plastic." The startup aims to develop sustainable materials that other brands and designers will be able to use.

The hair keeping Avezzano warm was sourced from local hair salons in the Netherlands and then treated to improve its thermal insulation. Human hair is highly similar to wool — a keratin protein fiber — with the added benefit of being non-allergenic.

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According to Human Material Loop, 72 million kg of human hair ends up in landfills or incinerators in Europe alone. Meanwhile, synthetic fibers used in clothing account for a fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year.

The outdoor gear being trialed now isn't the first human-derived product made by HML. In 2022, Zsofia Kollar was nominated for a Dutch Design Award for her hair sweater. While consumers might recoil at the idea of wearing another human's hair so close to their own skin, using it as hidden insulation in jackets could be a palatable way to close the human hair loop. Especially with its credentials as a zero-synthetics, zero-cruelty alternative to existing materials.

Weird? Maybe! But the unexpected tends to be a reliable source of innovation ;-)

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Liesbeth den Toom