PARIS — Chanel said on Tuesday it has acquired a minority stake in green chemistry company Evolved by Nature as part of its strategy of developing sustainable materials.
Formerly known as Silk Inc., the Boston-based firm focuses on designing and developing biomaterials-based products for industries ranging from personal care to textiles and medical devices. Its Activated Silk technology, consisting of natural silk in liquid form, provides a nontoxic alternative to chemicals in products.
“This partnership will allow Chanel to explore innovative material, mechanical and optical enhancements of different fabrics, in line with Chanel’s ambition of constantly creating materials of exceptional and unique quality. This investment is part of the company’s strategy in investing in green technology,” Chanel said in a statement.
Founded in 2013 by Gregory Altman and Rebecca Lacouture, Evolved by Nature last year received $30 million in Series B funding, designed to help it expand its offering in the fashion apparel and textile market. The investment round included Kraft Group and was led by Jeff Vinik, former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan Fund.
“We are excited to have the support of Chanel and benefit from its fashion and beauty sector expertise as we accelerate commercialization of our natural Activated Silk chemistry platform,” Altman said in a statement.
Chanel has been diversifying its investments to keep pace with consumer demand for sustainable products. Last year, the French luxury house invested in Finnish start-up Sulapac, which makes products using biodegradable and microplastic-free materials.
“We believe that innovation nurtures creativity, and we are confident in the potential of this partnership in terms of creating a unique combination of Evolved by Nature’s innovation capabilities and Chanel’s expertise,” it said.
The brand has also been reviewing its use of materials, announcing in December that it would no longer use exotic skins in its future creations.
“The future of high-end products will come from the know-how of what our atelier is able to do,” Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion and president of Chanel SAS, told WWD at the time.
Chanel has used its Métiers d’Art shows to spotlight the capabilities of the 26 specialty ateliers it owns through its Paraffection subsidiary, including the jeweler Desrues, feather-maker Lemarié, embroiderers Maison Lesage and Atelier Montex, shoemaker Massaro, milliner Maison Michel and cashmere specialist Barrie.
The exotic skins in question include crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray. Pavlovsky noted the list also includes fur, of which Chanel uses very little.
The executive explained that it was becoming increasingly difficult to source skins that met the house’s quality and ethical standards, and that it would focus its research and development on textiles and leathers generated by “agri-food” industries.