LANITAL: FABRIC DERIVED FROM MILK PRODUCTION WASTE
Lanital, or milk fibre, is a yarn made from the waste products of the food production of milk, especially milk protein, casein, which is transformed and made reliable, for creating this yarn with lots of beneficial properties for the skin for its moisturising, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and thermoregulating action.

Analysing the properties of this particular fabric, it was discovered that actually it doesn’t have so recent tradition and origin: in fact, it was created in the 1930’s and it is an entirely Italian invention. Lanital was invented by the engineer Ferretti who, trying to use the material available in overproduction, the milk, and because there wasn’t possible to make imports at that time because of the wool embargo, he invented a fabric that could somehow replicate the wool.

But Lanital was not so successful, because while they were trying to optimise it, after the war there were created all those oil-derived yarns, that were very cheap and super resistant. It was completely wiped out from the market, only to be revived in the 2000’s, when people realised the environmental impact and problems created by the petroleum derived yarns.

Having ascertained that these yarns were not the solution, fortunately there has been a return to the natural origin yarns, or in any case obtained from natural materials and, like this the milk fibre has been rediscovered. Technicians have continued to work on the manufacturing process of this fibre, trying to reduce the environmental impact even further, and today this yarn is more performant: we are now at the third generation of this yarn which reaffirms all the characteristics and benefits for the skin that have been listed above. Lanital can be extracted not only from milk, but also from any product that contains casein, which cannot be used for food purposes, for example in the case when the packaging has been damaged, and we know how the food chain, especially in Italy, has very strict laws regarding the product quality.

The milk and the dairy products have a very short shelf life. A large amount of expired products can no longer be put back on the market, or at least cannot be consumed, and today it is mainly used to make a by-product, as meal for the animals. Lanital feels like something between wool and silk, to the touch. It has a silky feel so it is extremely soft, but at the same time it does not have the coldness and stiffness of the silk, which is a nonelastic fabric.

Milk fibre is a thermo-regulating fabric that helps to maintain the body temperature. It’s a breathable fabric, it has a bit of the wool’s function – it absorbs humidity, so it doesn’t make you freeze. Unlike cotton which, because it doesn’t absorb the moisture, it has the cooling problem. When designing a garment, the choice of the correct fabric must be oriented towards functionality, always keeping in mind the importance of its appearance, but also of the environmental impact and, therefore, directing the research towards the most natural possible yarn; as well as considering the cost of the yarn itself. This very last item is an indication of what the production process is.

INNOVATIVE TEXTILE FIBRES
Besides the development of eco-friendly fabrics, the Italian textile industry – in the recent years – has decided to invest in research and innovation, which has produced the following categories of fabrics:
• organic fabrics;
• ecological fabrics;
• recycled fabrics;
• recyclable fabrics.

Organic textiles include organic cotton and organic wool. The quality of the organic cotton is superior to standard cotton, because it is grown under organic conditions and, according to the Textiles Exchange 2017 report, it needs a reduced water consumption for its cultivation compared to the conventional cotton. The second, the organic wool, is a sustainable material for the environment and for the animals that produce it: they live in freedom, eating organic food and undergoing a non-violent shearing. As far as the ecological textiles are concerned, we can mention Lyocell, obtained from eucalyptus wood.

It is an innovative, artificially-made cellulosic fibre with a very low environmental impact production process. Among the recycled fabrics, the pineapple waste opens a new frontier, giving the possibility to obtain a fibre called Pinatex. We can also mention the recycled cotton, which is blended with other fibres and is an ethical and sustainable choice, and finally regenerated wool, derived from damaged wool, old garments or residues that are torn and recycled. Among the recyclable fabrics we can include cotton waste, which is the waste from the processing of cotton.

INNOVATIVE MATERIALS FOR CLOTHING
On the fashion scene of the future, in the recent years we have seen an increasingly green change, and not just for the haute couture. One of the most significant is certainly the Biosteel, a synthetic vegan silk that imitates the spider web and also meets the sustainability requirement, as it is biodegradable. Finally, a valid alternative to the animal skin is Wineleather, totally natural. It is obtained from grape skins, seeds and stems. The fabric was invented in Italy and has won also an international recognition.•

by Laura Bravi
Assosecco Board Member

Detergo Magazine – Number 4, April 2022