Located directly next to the FashNerd Press Lounge, is the Sustainable Innovations which houses the Sanne Visser’s Knot display. Flexible, lightweight, high tensile strength, low-cost in production and available worldwide, this biodegradable fibre’s description could be mistaken for nylon but is, in fact, human hair, which funnily enough has multiple, valuable properties.
The Sanne Visser Knot
On average, one human hair can hold up to 100 grams of weight, depending on the person’s diet, health, environment, ethnical background and treatment of hair. So, potentially a whole head of hair could withstand a weight of 12 tonnes. It is not only high in tensile strength, thermal insulation, oil-absorption and flexibility; it is also extremely lightweight.
Looking at the differences of hair type by ethnical background, there are a few definite facts about the hair fibres. For example, Asian hair growth is the fastest, about 15 cm a year, whereas Caucasian hair grows 13cm a year and Afro hair 10cm a year. Focusing on its strength, African hair seems to be the most fragile, breaking under the strain of 60 grams after an elongation of 40%. At the other end of the scale, Asian hair is the strongest, withstanding a weight of 100 grams and an elongation of 55% for a single hair.
Utilising the Vast Wastage of Human Hair
According to the European Commission, 20% of the fishing gear made of plastics such as nylon is lost or disposed of at sea in the European Union. Globally, this corresponds to 640,000 tons per year. This is probably why Sanne Visser has her sights set on natural fibres like this as both the solution to mass human hair wastage and the fisheries industry.
Visser uses waste hair by spinning these fibres into yarns and then twists these yarns into ropes. Her approach simultaneously utilises the vast wastage of human hair to solve the fishing industries transition towards sustainability.
The New Age of Trichology aims to develop further other techniques and materials focusing on different properties such as thermal insulation, oil – absorption and flexibility of the hair. Areas that could be a potential context and which is most needed on a social and economic level, are areas such as agriculture, medical, construction and engineering industry.
Visser plans to increase her collaborations with more experts and professionals in the field in order to allow further development of this system on a more accurate and larger scale.
Watch this space, Sanne Visser interview to follow.