By  on September 2, 2009

PARIS — One day, organic cotton might seem like an ecological idea from the horse-and-buggy days. Instead, experimental technologies like “bio couture,” in which bacterial cellulose is grown in a green tea solution and dried down to form seamless garments, may come to the fore.

With such future technologies in mind, Gucci Group said it will sponsor a new Ph.D. scholarship devoted to innovations in sustainable fashion and textiles in cooperation with two London schools: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the University of the Arts London.

The three-year scholarship — valued at 30,000 pounds, or $48,750 at current exchange — underscores Gucci Group’s contention that sustainable technology is key for luxury brands as concerns mount about the environment and climate change.

The first scholarship is to commence in September 2010, with applications due around January.

“We are always searching for innovative new ways to sustainably improve the way we work,” said Mimma Viglezio, Gucci Group’s executive vice president of global communications. “Research and technology are the vital components in promoting the reinvention process.”

Viglezio noted that group brands — which besides Gucci include Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney — would have access to any scientific breakthroughs that might emerge from the scholarships, but they would not be proprietary.

While Central Saint Martins is hosting the scholarship, the project is also supported by the Textile Futures Research and Consultancy at the University of the Arts London. The research facility, dedicated to new textile and design products and applications, is currently developing “smart” textile surfaces that change shape according to their surroundings and is exploring ways of “upcycling” discarded materials with new finishings and laser surfacing.

Gucci Group recently created a corporate social responsibility department, with Burak Cakmak as its director, reporting to Viglezio.

At the brand level, Sergio Rossi employed cutting-edge technology to create a high-heeled “eco pump” to celebrate “Home,” a film about environmental responsibility released in June that was funded by Gucci Group parent PPR. The biodegradable shoe’s sole and heel were created with liquid wood: the sole mixed with leather waste; the heel compressed for high strength.

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