Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Don't cry over spilt milk -- it could become a skirt‎

From Juliet Mann, CNN
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Fri July 6, 2012
  • Every year, millions of tons of milk deemed unsafe for human consumption are discarded
  • QMilch is a soft, sustainable and non-allergenic fabric made out of wasted milk
  • QMilch costs around $30 per kilo to produce, compared to $3.8 per kilo for cotton yarn

(CNN) -- Every year, millions of tons of milk deemed unsafe for human consumption are discarded in Europe. Now, a German company is turning the spilled milk into high-end fashion.

Anke Domaske, a biochemist turned fashion designer, is the inventor of QMilch -- a fabric made entirely of milk.

"Milk fabric has been around since the 1930s, but the process involved chemicals. QMilch doesn't, and it uses up fewer resources than natural fibers do," said Domaske, whose fashion label Mademoiselle Chi Chi is a favorite with stars including Mischa Barton and Ashlee Simpson.

The fabric is created from milk which is allowed to ferment before it is turned into a powder. It is then heated and mixed with other natural ingredients and turned into yarn.

"To make one kilo of cotton takes 20,000 liters of water...our process only uses two liters of water," said the 29-year-old entrepreneur, who hopes her environmentally friendly fabric will revolutionize the fashion industry.

The fabric might use less water than cotton but it is far more expensive to produce -- QMilch costs around $30 per kilo to produce, compared to $3.8 per kilo for cotton yarn.

QMilch has a similar feel to silk, and is marketed as a luxury fiber. But, unlike other labor intensive materials like silk -- whose commodity prices fluctuate depending on the markets and the weather -- the cost of QMilch is expected to be stable, which Domaske said is feeding into its popularity.

"We are just ordering machines for producing 1,000 tons per year," she said. "It is scaling up from producing two kilos per hour to 120 kilos per hour," she added.

The fabric, which Domaske said is non-allergenic, is attracting interest outside of fashion. Makers of hospital and hotel bedding, and even car upholstery firms, are keen to clad their products in the sustainable fabric formerly known as milk.

Part of complete coverage on
Marketplace Europe
updated 11:31 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
Marketplace Europe visits Latvia to see how the Baltic country has made its transition to the Euro from the Lat.
updated 11:30 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
updated 11:40 AM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
updated 11:41 AM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
updated 5:06 AM EST, Thu January 9, 2014
Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
updated 4:23 PM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
updated 4:14 PM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
updated 1:15 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Estonia is setting the pace for other European nations with a thriving economy and its tech industry, according to the Baltic nation's leader.
updated 2:03 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
updated 4:25 AM EST, Fri November 29, 2013
Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Thu November 14, 2013
Peer at the windows and you'll spot big colorful chairs, plastic plants and a huge bed, but this is no department store.
updated 5:06 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
There once was a time, many years ago, when the sounds of bagpipes struck fear into the stomachs of Englishmen.
updated 6:16 AM EST, Mon November 11, 2013
Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
updated 7:00 AM EST, Fri November 8, 2013
Could Greece's famous spice help the country's farmers through a four-year long economic crisis.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Fri November 1, 2013
One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
updated 1:41 PM EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri October 25, 2013
As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.
updated 12:17 PM EDT, Thu October 24, 2013
The high commissioner of Brand Spain talks about getting the country back on its fee and attracting business.