5 materials you probably didn't know could be turned into fashion

5 materials you probably wouldn't expect in fashion

Rubber bags

Instead of letting the inner tubes of bicycles, motorbikes or trucks evaporate into smoke at an incineration plant, the Berlin designer and passionate motorcyclist Katja Werner upcycles this resistant and durable material into bags and cases for glasses or cell phones. The curves of the rubber tubes predetermine the shapes of her models.

5 materials you probably wouldn't expect in fashion

Paper dresses

The shapes of these dresses are created through intricate folds. The designer Jule Waibel needs over 10 hours and three meters (10 feet) of paper for a short dress. Although it might not survive a rainstorm, the design definitely attracts the eye. Waibel has also started using her folded designs on materials suited to everyday wear.

5 materials you probably wouldn't expect in fashion

Fire hose accessories

A fire hose can withstand about 20 times more pressure than a car tire, so these bags designed by Kerstin Klockow and Kai Rudat are more than ready to face everyday wear and tear - though the sewing machines also have to withstand the resistant material. They have designed different bags - and even the occasional corset.

5 materials you probably wouldn't expect in fashion

Wooden purse

Cross the professions of carpenter and model and you'll get a designer who creates fashion with wood: The South Tyrolean Norbert Öttl elaborately saws, bends and glues wood to create his luxury handbags, briefcases and trolley suitcases, as well as elegant clutch bags that have made their way to the world's most glamorous catwalks.

5 materials you probably wouldn't expect in fashion

Milk garments

Cleopatra already knew it: Milk is good for the skin. The microbiologist and designer from Hanover Anke Domaske turns leftover milk residues into fibers for the apparel industry, creating entirely natural material. She won a Gründerpreis (founder's prize) for the concept in 2010, and since then, her unusual idea has become a real and sustainable business.

Handbags made from bicycle tubes, clothes from paper - but there's much more to upcycling than that. Some designers like to work with materials that you wouldn't expect to find at a fashion show.

What may be trash for some is a designer's treasure.

"Upcycling" is the term used when new designer items are made from materials that would otherwise be thrown in the bin. They're often found in home design or fashion.

The concept of upcycling isn't new. In the 1990s, outdoor brand Patagonia produced fleece jackets made from plastic bottles. Since then, many fashion designers have increasingly focused on sustainable design.

Handbags have been fashioned out of bicycle tire tubes and designer fashion has been made from paper. But upcycling can get much more unusual than that.

Got milk - in your closet?

Anke Domaske, a designer in Hanover, takes upcycling to the limits and makes clothes entirely from milk - or, more accurately, from leftover milk.

Two million liters (over 528,000 gallons) of milk are thrown away every year in Germany. Domaske turns the milk fibers into material that is as light as silk - but a lot cheaper.

The designer studied microbiology, which helped her develop her unique process of separating the protein from the milk and then mixing it with water and additives. The exact recipe is a well-kept secret.

The result is a kind of dough that is then pressed into threads that are thinner than human hair. The clothing that is made from milk fibers are scentless, easy to take care of and good for your skin. Theoretically, you could even eat them.

With her company QMilch, Anke Domaske produces milk threads for the textile industry. She also bridges the gap between science and design and creates designer clothes with her own label, Mademoiselle Chi Chi.