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Compostable bioleather offers sustainable solutions for the clothing industry and beyond

The cattle industry is the single leading driver of deforestation, and the tanning of leather creates a great deal of chemical pollution. These challenges have motivated a search for more sustainable textiles, especially leather alternatives.

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Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, clothing production has been on an unsustainable path. Like most manufacturing, textiles are produced in a linear fashion with a cradle-to-grave model. Fabrics like cotton are farmed, worn, used, then thrown away. The textile industry as a whole is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, with leather being especially harmful. 

The cattle industry is the single leading driver of deforestation, and the tanning of leather creates a great deal of chemical pollution. These challenges have motivated a search for more sustainable textiles, especially leather alternatives.

A team with a track record of successful collaboration may hold an answer. Biomedical Engineering researchers at Columbia Engineering recently announced they have created a compostable bioleather with superior flame-retardance and low environmental impact. Their microbial nanocellulose (MC) bioleather has a 1,000-times lower carcinogenic impact than cow leather and a significantly smaller carbon footprint than synthetic leather or cotton. Their study was published in Environmental Science: Advances

The team, led by Theanne Schiros and Helen Lu, together with Ph.D. candidate Romare Antrobus, has been working together for several years in Columbia’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) to develop materials for a broad range of applications from biomedicine to energy, electronics, and textiles laid the foundation for inventing this versatile new material.

“Our bioleather represents a breakthrough not only for textiles but shows other industries how to explore a sustainable manufacturing process to engineer regenerative materials,”  said Lu, professor of biomedical engineering and Senior Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement at Columbia Engineering.

To make high-performance biotextiles, the team harnessed microbial biosynthesis of nanocellulose, drawing inspiration from pre-industrial and indigenous science. Schiros hypothesized that a main component of mammalian brain used for millennia to tan hides into leather–lecithin phosphatidylcholine– would stabilize the interaction of cellulose with both water and lipids in a tanning emulsion, and modify the material properties of MC through its hydrophilic groups to make it suitable for use as a bioleather. When the researchers used traditional brain and smoke tanning processes, they noted an increase in tensile strength and ductility of MC, which encouraged this line of investigation. Their discovery led to the development of an eco-friendly, plant-based lecithin “tanning” process for nanocellulose that created a strong, compostable bioleather. 

This new process will not only transform future textile development but also cultural heritage research. While civilizations around the world have been creating sustainable and durable textiles since antiquity, most of these ancient techniques have been lost.

“Our team is now collaborating with scientists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to develop a conservation studies database for artifacts in their cultural heritage collections and to understand the mechanism behind historic brain and organ tanning,” said Schiros, associate professor of materials science at the Fashion Institute of Technology and adjunct associate research scientist in Columbia’s MRSEC. 

Coming full circle to modern-day design, the researchers created a pair of naturally dyed, microbial bioleather sneakers in a collaboration with Public School NY. The sneakers are part of an exhibition, Towards a Circular Society: Learning from Nature, currently on view at the University of Bern’s Wyss Academy for Nature. They will also be on view in a separate exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

This new study builds off the researchers’ successful rethinking of manufacturing through the lens of biomaterials and the circular economy, including two startups spun out of their labs, Algiknit, which makes kelp-based biofibers, and Werewool, which has created a platform for high-performance regenerative textile fibers with DNA-programmed color and function, such as stretch or waterproofing,  provided by engineered proteins. 

With their accomplishments in harnessing the power of microbes and developing paleo-inspired green processing techniques, Lu and Schiros expect biofabrication to play a critical role in facilitating a transition to a more sustainable economy. MC offers a modular engineering platform for high-performance regenerative materials with various applications, from tissue engineering to batteries, electronics, biosensors, and pollution remediation, which the researchers are continuing to explore.

Schiros believes the broad applicability of their research may only be a matter of time. She added, “The biofabrication approach developed here can incentivize and accelerate a paradigm shift to a circular materials economy, critical to global climate goals and sustainable development.”

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Beauty & Fashion

UNIQLO Mall of Asia store reopens on May 17

The branch first opened in 2012 as the global brand’s very first store in the Philippines, introducing Filipinos to UNIQLO’s stylish and functional everyday clothing.

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UNIQLO’s original MOA store is set to open its doors once more after major updates. The newly revamped store comes with a bigger space and larger offerings.

The branch opened in 2012 as the global brand’s very first store in the Philippines, introducing Filipinos to UNIQLO’s stylish and functional everyday clothing. With its sprawling 1,550 square meters at that time, the store served thousands of customers in the largest mall in the country and remained as one of the go-to hubs for LifeWear.

On May 17, the all-new UNIQLO MOA store promises to be even bigger with a doubled-up floor space of over 3,000 square meters spread across two floors. Loyal and new customers alike will surely enjoy the store’s new layout and latest presentations, as the space evolves with the new lifestyles of Filipinos.

Redefined experiences

Aside from featuring a vast selection of LifeWear pieces, the all-new UNIQLO MOA store will also redefine the retail experience where in-store and online shopping comes hand-in-hand. Store-driven efforts such as same-day Click & Collect are set to give customers an integrated shopping experience with UNIQLO.

The all-new UNIQLO MOA store will also be the second store in the country to have UNIQLO Coffee and UTMe! Originally only available at UNIQLO Manila Global Flagship Store in Glorietta 5, UNIQLO Coffee and UTme! is coming to the MOA store to delight coffee lovers and art lovers, respectively.

UNIQLO Coffee in the Philippines presents locally sourced, high-quality coffee beans from Mt. Apo, and features goods and pastries that mix Filipino and Japanese flavors.

Meanwhile, the UTme! service lets customers customize shirts and tote bags with various designs from its library or their own creations and images. To celebrate the new opening, UNIQLO is expanding its UTme! line-up with new designs in collaboration with partners from the local community.

Redefined lifestyles

The UNIQLO MOA store offers the brand’s complete LifeWear collection for men’s, women’s, kids, and babies. The all-new store spotlights essentials that are made for all, such as, the UNIQLO Core T and UNIQLO BraTop collection. Collaboration pieces with world renowned designers and pop culture brands will also be available.

Mark your calendars on May 17 and join the eventful re-opening of the UNIQLO MOA store at Level 2 to 3 of MOA’s North main mall, sure to be filled with exciting surprises with a redefined shopping experience like no other.

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Beauty & Fashion

Decathlon opens new Cebu City store

It is the first store outside Mega Manila for the France-based sports brand, our 6th store in partnership with SM, and the first Decathlon Philippines store to open this 2024.

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Global sports retail brand Decathlon unveils its 10th store in the Philippines, a 3,000 sqm sports retail zone at SM City Cebu. It is the first store outside Mega Manila for the France-based sports brand, our 6th store in partnership with SM, and the first Decathlon Philippines store to open this 2024. 

“We are excited to launch not only a new store, but a key milestone for us in making sports accessible to more and more Filipinos,” Hans Iff, President of Decathlon Philippines, states. “In Decathlon we always go where the sport lovers are, and Cebu is the perfect starting line for us, with its blend of urban playgrounds and nature destinations, and of course its active and dynamic residents. We look forward to welcoming all sport lovers and sparking the wonders of sport within each one.” 

Decathlon Cebu offers an expansive range of products for over 70 sports, with expansive display areas and experience zones for everyone to try and test. “We are happy to be in Cebu, a home for outdoor, water, and multisport activities, and a popular local and international tourist hub. Our goal is to be where the sport passionates are, but we also recognize that we are so much more than sport – we exist to unlock the love of sport in everyone. We look forward to having everyone discover our best-value sports products at an accessible price, and welcome everyone in SM City Cebu, ” Hathaipat ‘Spray’ Theintangpiriya, store leader for Cebu and city leader for Visayas and Mindanao, shares. 

Spray also assures that the Decathlon journey will continue to grow in the Visayas region. “Our Cebu store is only the starting line of an exciting Decathlon adventure. Our mission definitely isn’t done, and you can look forward to having more and more stores within the region in the coming years.” 

Decathlon Cebu also has a few surprises for all sport lovers this opening week. On March 1 only, the first 100 customers will receive an exclusive Decathlon backpack. On March 1 to 3, customers with a minimum purchase of P3500 will get an exclusive Decathlon Cebu tote bag, and on March 4-10, a special dry bag awaits customers with a minimum single receipt worth Php 3500. Only Decathlon members are eligible for the promos – simply sign up for free to enjoy up to 2-year warranty and 365-day refund and exchange on most items, access to Decathlon playgrounds and sports events, and more member-only promos and exclusives. 

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Beauty & Fashion

Introducing Emirates’ Business Class loungewear

Emirates’ Business Class loungewear is composed of a super soft premium modal material, which customers find lightweight and breathable.

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 Emirates Business Class customers will now be able to enjoy a complimentary inflight loungewear set which includes a relaxed cowl neck top and drawstring pants, comfortable slippers, and a matching eye mask. The luxurious loungewear is designed to be the ideal ‘flight fit’ – perfect for sleeping in, but also suitable to wear for a social drink at the A380 onboard lounge, or as a casual outfit that takes you from aircraft to arrivals in style.

Emirates’ Business Class loungewear is composed of a super soft premium modal material, which customers find lightweight and breathable. Designed to reflect contemporary athleisure trends, the cozy fabric is in a relaxing shade of light blue, available in two sizes. The botanic fibers and jersey knit style means the loungewear has an elegant drape that flatters various body types, ensuring soft and stretchy comfort above the clouds. Presented in a complementary drawstring pouch, each set contains an adjustable loungewear top and pants, a pair of warm slippers and an eye mask.

Emirates Business Class customers will be offered the loungewear set upon boarding so they can change at their leisure and maximize comfort for the full duration of the flight. On flights of 9 hours or more, Business Class customers will receive the full set with loungewear top and pants, slippers and eye mask, while on flights that have a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes, customers will receive complimentary slippers and eye mask sets.

The launch of Business Class Loungewear forms part of Emirates’ ongoing investment into elevating customer experience, ensuring customers in all classes ‘fly better’. Recent investments have included a huge retrofit project of 120 aircraft with upgraded cabin interiors, creative new menus and new high-quality ingredients, exclusive champagne partnerships, a new hospitality program for Emirates cabin crew, live TV onboard amidst a vast library of inflight entertainment, complimentary Wi-Fi attainable for all customers, luxurious amenity kits and a world-class wine list.

The multimillion-dollar investment into Business Class loungewear has been in development for more than a year, designed in-house by the Emirates team to be best-in-class for comfort, style and reusability. During the trial period on routes to and from New York and Boston, customers shared highly positive feedback on the loungewear, with sets being taken home by customers to be worn again.

Experience true inflight comfort with Emirates Business Class

When you fly Emirates Business Class, your journey becomes as exciting and memorable as your destination. Choose from a curated selection of regionally inspired gourmet dishes and enjoy the different flavors of the world, and then immerse yourself in Emirates’ award-winning entertainment with more than 6,500 channels of on-demand content for you to explore.

Pamper yourself and stay refreshed with the complimentary travel amenity kit featuring Bulgari products and comfort essentials including a dental kit, double mirror, deodorant, tissues, and a foldaway hairbrush. Relax and unwind in your seat which seamlessly reclines into a fully flat bed with a soft, comfy mattress and a cozy blanket for a good night’s sleep.

With Emirates Business Class, you also get exclusive access to Emirates chauffeur drive service for a seamless, door-to-door experience to and from the airport, available in over 70 cities worldwide. You’ll also get access to Emirates’ Business Class Lounge which offers complimentary Wi-Fi, a well-equipped Business Center, and an array of gourmet dining options and exclusive beverages, allowing you to ease into the next step of your journey.

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