Sustainable fashion innovation: interview with Mônica Gonçalves

Sustainable fashion innovation: interview with Mônica Gonçalves

Mônica Gonçalves, Casa Grigi, and In.filo are part of our community of sustainable makers and are partners in the incubation and mentoring program in fashion and sustainable design of Slow Innovation Brands. Mônica has been working on the development of new sustainable materials such as cork yarn and banana leather. She is part of our technical team as a teacher and consultant. We held an interview with her so you know more about her trajectory!


fashion design course

Who is Monica?

My career was based on several competitions:

The first places in the Romans in Berlin in 2010 stand out;

Euroskills European Championship in 2011;

EcoFriendly from Portugal Fashionem 2012;

The first prize in the European Championship earned her a scholarship that took her to Italy to work at the prestigious Barena, whose principles influence and inspire the development of the thread in which she finished with a classification of 20 values.

With the goal of studying and exploring local and natural materials, in 2011 I created the cork wire, a project that aims to value resources and innovative techniques with national materials.

From 2011 until now its route has been dedicated to the development of new materials and the new possibilities of application of organic residues in textile.

What does Monica currently work on?

In addition to maintaining the cork wire project, I work with other companies in the area of innovation and teach materials at LSD and World Academy.

What kind of materials do you work with and why?

I work with cork wire and waste. I am currently focused on food waste.

What courses do you offer for Slow Innovation Brands? What can students learn from you?

Natural dyes, Vegan leather, bioplastic production, and new materials.

Do you have or had investors?

Yes, I have a group of investors who invested in the cork yarn project, after participating in Sharktank.

Have you participated in any startups contest? Tell us about the experience.

I participated in various design contests in fashion and innovation. The only startup’s contest was "Sharktank."

Have you already done any crowdfunding campaign?

Not so far.

What is your academic background? Did your knowledge help you create and manage your startup?

I took the course of Fashion Design and took various classes such as high headgear, moulage and couture, bodices and 3D modeling with Master Shingo Sato. I did 3 internships in different areas, industrial and studio environment and finally, I did Erasmus in Venice to which I maintain professional ties.

What fruit residues can be recycled and what for?

In fact, all the fruit can be reused, provided that we are sure that we can cancel the sugars and maintain the fiber with quality and resistance.

Is the transformation of banana waste into sustainable raw material involves treatment with chemicals? What is your opinion on the use of chemicals in the processing of sustainable raw materials? Can they be harmful to the environment and to man?

The transformation of banana into sustainable raw material does not involve any kind of chemical. It is all based on natural formulations.

Well, I think the vast majority of cases need the use of chemicals in the processing of sustainable raw materials, to ensure the strength/endurance necessary for the product to reach the user with quality. The fact that we are replacing the percentage of synthetic materials with waste is already a great achievement.

What are the benefits of using bananas as a raw material for making clothes and objects?

We have not yet tested the product in "large scale", as we only have a proof of concept. But I aspire that it is a good substitute for leathers and nonwovens.

Tell us a little about the banana leather you created.

Banana leather is a material that aesthetically is very similar to animal leather and which has a composition of 100% Banana peel. It is a material with scratch and some flexibility, but it rips like a card.

Tell us about the cork wire you created.

The cork yarn was and is my great challenge! Achieving cork resilience and strength was no easy task, as we are talking about a thread that is constantly exposed to traction forces and that when worked in a machine can not leave. The same gives a dry touch of linen but has the beauty and color of cork, which in my opinion is unique. It adapts to different applications. It has already been applied to clothing, footwear, furniture, and home textiles.

Do you have other materials created? Are they available for sale?

Yes, I have already developed other materials but I will divulge it in due time. However, we are available to work always in the area of developing new materials in partnership.


Mônica Gonçalves, creative inventor, enterprising woman, dedicated teacher, and dear friend!

Join the Sustainable Fashion Innovation Program and meet our entire community of sustainable makers!

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