Vegetarian designer Stella McCartney—in partnership with investment firm Stray Dog Capital and animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)—announced this week that she would sponsor the “Animal-Free Wool” prize during this year’s Biodesign Challenge. The competition draws biotechnical engineering students and scientists from around the world to create more sustainable alternatives to products, such as animal-based fibers in fashion. “We’re so excited for what is happening in biotechnology,” McCartney said. “We want the students to develop a proof [of] concept that has to work from A to Z. It has to be sourceable, it has to work as material, have some movement and breathability.” The designer—who is currently still including wool in her fashion line—said that she would want to use the new material to “push fashion forward.” Student teams from 30 universities will gather in New York City in June to participate in the design competition, and winners of the Animal-Free Wool challenge will be awarded the opportunity to visit McCartney’s London-based studio to learn about the future of fashion from the world-renowned designer. Last year, McCartney announced she would replace silk in her designs with an animal-free alternative thanks to a partnership with Silicon Valley biotech company Bolt Threads—which creates yeast-based vegan silk.
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