Ganni's Co-Founder Explores the Frontiers of Material Innovation

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
August 10th, 2023
11:29 AM

Ganni's Nicolaj Reffstrup champions game-changing "carbon-negative cellulosic textile," developed with Rubi, a biotech start-up supported by H&M and Patagonia, signaling a greener path for the fashion industry.


Nicolaj Reffstrup, the mastermind behind Danish label Ganni, is placing a strategic wager on the transformative capabilities of innovative materials to instigate a sweeping reform within the labyrinthine corridors of the fashion industry. His conviction rests upon a cornerstone principle: seamless synergy between venerable brands and nimble start-ups shall serve as the catalytic engine propelling the sector towards a greener horizon.

In a riveting display of this vision, Ganni unveiled a groundbreaking "carbon-negative cellulosic textile" at the Global Fashion Summit, held late in June. This audacious material, lauded for its potential to metamorphose carbon emissions through a "fully enzymatic process," was unfurled before the audience by Reffstrup himself, evoking humble strands of pulp and yarn.

This innovative creation traces its origins to Rubi, a burgeoning biotech enterprise nestled in California's fertile innovation soil. Gaining crucial backing from industry juggernauts such as H&M and Patagonia, Rubi orchestrates a symphony of biochemical wizardry, leveraging industrially scaled enzymes to voraciously consume carbon emissions, birthing textiles ensconced in "carbon-derived, resource-neutral" ingenuity.


Ganni's Odyssey with Rubi's Innovation

Reffstrup envisions Ganni embarking on an odyssey, serving as the vanguard in trialing fabrics wrought from Rubi's patent-pending technology. A hybrid composition melding 20 percent Rubi cellulose yarn with conventional industry cellulose sets the stage for a tantalizing test. While the path towards scaling this revolutionary technique is a journey of considerable distance, the potential impact is nothing short of "game-changing," as articulated by Reffstrup.

Positioned to recalibrate the bedrock of material consumption on an expansive scale, Ganni's ambitious pursuit brims with potential, especially owing to its distinguished distinction from energy-intensive fermentation processes. Undoubtedly a watershed moment, the forthcoming aspiration envisions a future where Ganni embraces carbon sequestration, ushering in a paradigm shift wherein production fumes metamorphose into yarns via symbiotic enzymatic transformations – a harmonious marriage of science and creativity, scarcely less than extraordinary.

Intriguingly, Rubi stands not as the sole harbinger of innovative promise in Ganni's universe. Anchored in Copenhagen, the brand's research and development arm, christened "Fabrics of the Future," orchestrates a bustling symposium of over two dozen pioneering companies, cultivating innovative brilliance since its inception in 2019. This venture, akin to a bustling university, yields an array of graduates while nurturing innovative saplings. A laudable ambition accompanies this crusade - a vow to shrink Ganni's carbon footprint by an assertive 50 percent between 2021 and 2025. In this poignant crusade, innovative materials stand tall as formidable champions.



Strategic Challenges and Sustainable Evolution

For Ganni, ushering innovative materials from the nascent stages to full-scale integration introduces a medley of formidable challenges, with pricing chief among them. While the pursuit of pioneering materials is noble, the delicate balance between innovation and financial viability remains a perpetual tightrope.

Ganni employs a diverse array of sustainable materials in their pursuit of eco-conscious fashion. Some of the sustainable materials utilized by Ganni include organic GOTS cotton, recycled polyester, Tencel (a renewable wood pulp fiber), ECONYL (regenerated nylon made from discarded materials), and responsibly sourced wool. They also experiment with innovative materials developed through collaborations with start-ups, such as the "carbon-negative cellulosic textile" created in partnership with Rubi, a biotech start-up.

As Ganni amplifies its crusade, it extends its aegis beyond novel textiles. Embarking on sustainable tangents, the brand's strategic foray into circular business models unfolds, notably underpinned by the triumphant in-store re-commerce model. This surging success now merits elevation to an overarching business strategy, while the pursuit of online re-commerce continues to occupy Ganni's strategic horizons.

However, Reffstrup candidly accentuates that transformative tides mandate the orchestration of broader structural changes. Regulatory and legislative underpinnings, he argues, must resound with audacious harmony, coercing the industry towards a coherent crescendo of change. A trailblazer in its own right, Ganni ventured forth to institute its carbon tax in 2016, rendering it a pioneer ahead of the political curve. Yet, the impetus for more accelerated change remains an underlying pulse, a poignant refrain in Reffstrup's articulation.