Eyes are turning towards a British clothing manufacturer which is making a big splash by replacing wool, cotton, and polyester with materials of the future, including graphene, carbon fibre, and modern ceramics.

The company, called Vollebak, was founded in 2016 by brother Nick and Steve Tidball and has found success in a range of clothing that includes the ‘Graphene Jacket’, and the ‘100 Year Vest’, while the latest T-shirt released has already sold out despite the €105 price tag.

However, the true draw for manufacturers has been their use of modern materials that makes the clothes truly ‘cutting-edge’, such as a shirt that contains 100,000 ceramic particles the same as those used on the International Space Station. And while this may sound like a gimmick, there is also logic behind using state-of-the-art raw materials. This is because it creates much better clothing, which the company describes as “lightweight, breathable, and high wicking (draws moisture away)– with ceramic technology that makes it highly abrasion resistant and long lasting”. They even add that it is “Earth’s toughest shirt”.

The 'Condition Black Ceramic T-Shirt'

Similar products on the company’s range include a graphene jacket, which employs the “lightest, strongest, and most conductive material ever discovered” and an electrically-charged jacket that can glow in the dark, which was named as one of TIME magazine's Best Inventions of 2018 and as Sports Gear of the Year by WIRED.

The ‘Solar-Charged Jacket’.

Meanwhile, the Black Squid Jacket is made from “… lasers, resin and over 2 billion disruptively-structured microscopic glass spheres” to create a black cloth that turns into a florescent, light-reflecting material when in full daylight.

When worn inside the Black Squid Jacket has an oily black appearance.
When exposed to bright light

However, one of the most talked-about products is a T-shirt that is made from 120 metres of carbon fibre that is woven into the cloth. Due to its incredible strength (including a tensile modulus that is 5x stronger than steel), carbon fibre is usually used in supercars, military gear, and high-end sports equipment. However, when thousands of strands of carbon fibre (each thinner that a human hair) are plaited together, the result is a material that is, “… soft, breathable, and highly elastic, while the carbon fibre adds strength and abrasion resistance - acting like a ripstop to save your skin.”

While the company is keeping secret the additional costs of using cutting-edge raw materials instead of cotton and polyester, the sold-out products lines and strong demand show the value that consumers are placing in high-specification products. Using top-end, quality raw materials should no longer be seen as an extravagance but as an investment in durability, low weight, elasticity, and in the case of clothing, breathability.  

With a market for carbon fibre, ceramics, and even graphene in the fashion industry, who can say what applications other modern materials such as carbon nanotubes and nanowires will find in the future.

Photo credit: Vollebak