Interview with Aniela Hoitink, Founder of NEFFA & MycoTEX

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caption: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA working in her studio
credits: Auke Hamers

Fashion and innovation are stablemates. It’s the nature of the beast. When you are constantly producing new lines, new products several times a year, to keep ahead, both from a market perspective, and artistically means that new sources of inspiration are required, so innovation has a key part to play in the fashion game. That’s not to say that innovation always comes to market.

Aniela Hoitink, and her company NEFFA seem to have taken this link between fashion and innovation to a new level so Global Innovation Magazine spoke to Aniela to find out more about NEFFA, and some of the projects she is currently working on.

caption: MycoTEX dress detail of the top
credits: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA
caption: Picture of Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA
credits: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA

Don’t miss the boat, and keep on innovating

Tell us a bit about yourself Aniela


My background is in fashion design, then I worked in fashion for circa 10 years. I worked for several companies including Tommy Hilfiger for a period, and I founded my company NEFFA 12 years ago, to focus on fashion innovation.


I hadn’t seen much change in my time in textiles or in textile manufacturing, I wanted to change the industry.


I work a lot in collaboration with research institutes and universities. Growth in textiles was something I was interested in, but learning about how I could actually grow my own material really inspired me, and we have been working on this for a while now through the company in collaboration with others.

caption: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA giving a presentation
credits: Daniel Gebhardt
caption: MycoTEX top shown during the NEFFA fashion show at Avantex, Paris
credits: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA

You have so many interesting projects going on that people should check out, but tell us about MycoTEX.


MycoTex is the whole supply chain, we start by growing mycelium, we harvest it and then we apply it to a 3D mould. This is a completely different approach. You always had to cut patterns and sew them together, but actually working with mycelium, the roots of mushrooms, we have found that we can glue the material, we don’t have to make a flat surface, we can work in 3D, so this is a new way of working.  Our body-based modelling process means we can create garments that perfectly fit your body without the need to cut and sew. There are many environmental benefits to producing this way as well. We have a shorter supply chain that eliminates the need for chemicals and pesticides. We reduce water usage by 99.5% and our local production is reducing our transport needs. We only grow what we need and have no textile waste during the production phase. After wearing, you can simply bury your garment in the ground and it will naturally decompose.

Tell us about your business NEFFA?


We really focus on fashion innovation. That could be about solar energy in garments, or making garments visible at night. We (Dutch) are a nation of cyclists, so that’s a really interesting focus, so we are always thinking about how garments can be improved to make our lives better.

There are so many things you can do with innovation and fashion but we focused on incorporating technology into textiles, then we asked how we can incorporate interesting dyes and coatings etc? NEFFA is about exploring and taking influences from technology and the world around us.

caption: Aniela Hoitink working in the lab
credits: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA

There is some brilliant thinking going on here, but how do you make interesting ideas into a business?


We are the intermediates between research and fashion companies. We have looked at things like flat lightning and how to incorporate things like that into clothing. The problem is getting brands to commit to something like that. You have to make clothing that consumers like, without that it is very difficult, if not impossible. We get a lot of interest in the way that we produce, but getting a commitment from the fashion brands is difficult. We need to change the industry and we need brands to support innovation at an early stage. To collaborate takes investment so many ideas don’t get to market but you do need to collaborate across different parts of the industry  and that’s when you get innovation going.


mycotex-3d-shaping caption: MycoTEX creating three-dimensional shapes credits: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA[/caption]

Inspiration cannot be the only thing that moves a project forward then?


Throughout my whole career personalisation has been key. We have done a lot of projects that showcase what is possible, but it takes so much more than that. As I said you need collaboration and the buy-in from producers at an early stage to innovate. You also need perseverance and investment. The skills that I have I picked up, I learnt myself to a large degree or by doing workshops. I have always done my own research, and we have been working in our own lab for the last few years. All of these things are important to our projects moving on.


mycotex_bag_diagonal caption: MycoTEX bag credits: Aniela Hoitink | NEFFA[/caption]

Your focus is MycoTEX then at the moment?


Yes for the last 3 years we have been focusing on it. This will continue, but in the future, it would be great to implement some of the other ideas and projects we have into MycoTEX. We are going to launch in January 2021. We have been working really hard so that when we launch we can be as sure as we can that it is going to work.


Can you recommend any books or podcasts to our readers?


I have been reading Loonshots by Safi Bahcall, which was the last book I read. It is about innovation, it has some really interesting lessons and examples of how companies have been successful and how sometimes things go wrong. I’m trying to set up a business that will last for a long time, but we have to be flexible to ensure that we don’t miss the boat and keep on innovating.


You can learn more about MycoTEX  and NEFFA here https://neffa.nl/mycotex/



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