The Soil Project is Yuhan Bai’s collection featuring a sculptural corset made out of an elaborate soil mix.
Calling all gardeners, florists and lovers of the outdoors alike; you’re about to discover a peculiar new use to your soil reserves; the making of leather. Presenting her latest collection from the Royal College of Art, Yuhan Bai unveiled The Soil Project; a leather-looking clothing collection made out of, you guessed it, soil.
All it takes to produce a leather-mimic is a mix of soil, gelatine, agar, starch, glycerin, gluten and water to produce a liquid which is then boiled and afterwards cast in a mould. The result is a fabric of sorts that resembles animal leather, but an awful lot more flexible – somewhat like silicone. For Bai, it’s kind of like an elaborate cooking recipe.
Once the mould was set, a laser cutter was used to create a sculptural corset which Yuhan Bai has photographed in a pond. The setting and creative direction all seem to reference nature, giving Bai’s pieces an almost whimsical faery quality, but with an undeniable “cyberpunkness” regarding how its made. We’re talking about soil after all, but used and re-purposed in a way that feels very Avantgarde.
The soil was also the key component for the fabrication of some leather scraps which adorn other pieces Bai found in vintage stores, and as as a dye for other elements of the collection. The result is an exploration of the potentials of natural materials, with an overarching understanding of current fashion trends.
Yuhan Bai has taken it to instagram to reflect upon her processes. On a photo of a sculptural assembly of soiled fabrics, branches and leaves, she writes:
“Understanding how nature operates and promoting and developing a design philosophy that allows humans and nature to coexist.”
We can’t help but think of Loewe and their grass grown garments for the spring summer 2023 collection back in June. Although different, fashion’s interest in biomaterials or in the symbiosis of man-made and nature makes Yuhan Bai and The Soil Project impressively relevant in the current fashion panorama.