Industrious knitters have been spinning dog and cat hair into yarn for many years. But what about human hair? Amsterdam-based designer Zsofia Kollar had asked that same question before founding the Human Material Loop and making clothes out of human hair.
The Human Material Loop aims to create a globally applicable system where the hair waste would be turned into sustainable products, lowering the demand for cotton and synthetic fibers.
As proof-of-concept, Kollar created a sweater made of 100 percent recycled Dutch blond hair from Amsterdam. While the yarn is currently produced at a spinning mill in Italy, Kollar hopes to have all materials produced locally.
“In the past, people have used all kinds of materials around them. For example, ropes made of hair were a very common thing. But nowadays, we seem to have forgotten that human hair is also a natural material,” Kollar says. “I am trying to help people become more open-minded to different materials again and hopefully in the future, wearing a jumper made of human hair will be normal.”
Hair has a strength-to-weight ratio comparable to steel. It can be stretched up to one and a half times its original length before breaking. In fact, the faster hair is stretched, the stronger it is.
Kollar worked with local salons to provide her “raw material” for spinning yarn. In Europe alone, an estimated 72 million kg (about 159 million pounds) of human hair is generated annually. Waste hair ends up in landfills or clogs drainage systems.
Unlike animal hair that needs to be treated with chemicals to remove blood and particulates before it can be used, Kollar says human hair is “pretty much ready to go. It only needs to be steamed.”