Crùbag: textiles inspired by wonders of marine science
Ocean life is a natural marvel and mystery that largely remains only visible to those in the scientific community. Scientists are working hard to enhance our understanding of the marine world with its captivating organisms and complex ecoystems, but developments do not always make it to the mainstream and public arena.
“We are only just beginning to discover the vast array of biodiversity that makes the immense volume of the ocean its home,” Southampton Oceanography graduate Dr Helen Smith explains. “We need to reach out to the public in an innovative way, engaging them in the wonders of marine science and encouraging positive action to protect our oceanic life support system.”
Helen has teamed up with Jessica Giannotti, a graduate from the Scottish Association for Marine Science, to communicate the important work of marine scientists through high impact textiles and design. Their company, Crùbag, works with oceanographers to create visual striking designs for luxury textile products that are sold with a supporting science outreach package.
The fledgling business has already collaborated with scientists from Scotland to create textile collections depicting their work and has new projects in the pipeline with other institutions. Crùbag engages with scientists exploring new areas of marine science, utilising the team’s unique backgrounds to generate captivating visual and written content.
“I use design thinking to work at the interface between science and fashion,” Jessica says, “taking images and concepts from information to art. These designs are digitally printed using the latest developments, which provide a highly flexible colour palette and is more environmentally friendly than traditional print methods – using less water and fewer chemicals.
“Crùbag’s customers are curious and understand the world around them, they love the nature, are well-travelled and interested in sustainable luxury with a story. They are passionate about culture, fashion and lifestyle. They are environmentally conscious, looking for ecological and ethical fashion.”
Crùbag prints onto the natural fabrics including wool, cotton and silk. Its ethos is to seek the most sustainable forms of printing, reducing waste by using offcuts and print errors in the creation of new products. The team is also supporting traditional skill sets by using skilled artisans to apply the finishing touches. Collections are released with accompanying written material for each product, ensuring that the science behind each design is shared to inspire a new audience to take a closer look at the marine world.
“Crùbag has proved immensely popular amongst marine scientists and there is mounting interest and support from the global science community,” Helen adds. “We have focused so far on small scale projects and local markets to test out the concept. We are now looking to scale up to reach a global market while maintaining our ethos of sustainability, using natural materials and disseminating fascinating science.”
Crùbag is seeking advice and investment from individuals with experience in the luxury fashion industry, expertise in the online and high street retail sectors or the know-how to set up a traceable production line. You can get in touch with Crùbag using the contact form on this page.
Crùbag has received financial support from national and international programmes to create its first two collections, which have been presented and sold at science conferences. The business was also commissioned to produce a collection celebrating the 130th anniversary of Scottish Association for Marine Science, focusing on its founder Sir John Murray.
Helen and Jessica visit trade shows during fashion weeks in Paris and London, and are working closely with the fashion and textile industry to create products that appeal and connect with their customers. They plan to wholesale at shows in future fashion weeks.
“In collaboration with marine scientists, we can now reach a wider audience and educate them through the draw of beautiful and tangible products,” Helen enthuses. “We are continually building our scientific network to expand into other areas of marine science and grow our collection of designs. We want to motivate people to care for the marine environment, while enveloping them in a new sense of luxury.”
Find out more about Crùbag and its latest collections via the company website.