Dezeen Magazine

Alice Potts creates baseball caps with crystals made from human sweat

Designer Alice Potts has created a collection of baseball caps covered in crystals grown from the sweat of the people who have worn them.

Potts asked a group of eight people, all with different backgrounds and lifestyles, to wear the baseball caps for a six-week period as they went about their everyday lives for her INPerspire project.

"Sweat covers us in a similar way to clothing – like a second skin," the designer told Dezeen.

Sam Burton sweat cap
A band of crystallised sweat encircles participant Sam Burton's cap

The people chosen for the experiment ranged from ones with office jobs to people who were into rave culture, people with a vegan lifestyle and people who work in sport.

The crystallisation process began when the individual's sweat soaked into the cap's fibres.

After being worn for six weeks, the caps were then placed in salt a solution to let the sweat crystallise over a 10-hour period.

Connor Mcdonald sweat cap
Connor Mcdonald sweat cap –Hero

"The caps are already saturated with each individual's sweat to act like a seed within the fibres, meaning that when placed into the solution it acts like a jigsaw growing from within the material," Potts said.

"For each litre [of sweat], you can get between 10-50 grams of saturated salt solution," she added.

Evie Hodgkins sweat cap crystals
A cap worn by Evie Hodgkins

The crystals will gradually fall off but can remain "for years".

"Sweat crystals naturally adhere to the material they are grown on, but over time, they will gradually fall off due to their adhesion weakening," said Potts.

"The lifespan of sweat crystals can extend for years depending on how they are maintained."

Close up of Will Hawkins crystallised sweat on hat
Males typically produce sweat salt crystals with flatter peaks, said Potts

During the process, Potts observed that there were trends in the types of sweat crystals produced depending on the individual and lifestyle factors of the group.

"Every person has different sweat based on a multitude of factors, which can be further analysed using chromatography to identify their precise biological makeup," said Potts.

"One notable visual distinction between men and women lies in the structure of their sweat crystals. Females tend to exhibit sharply pointed crysals, while males typically produce flatter peaks," she explained.

Through the project, Potts intended to highlight the possibilities of sustainable design methods and biomaterials, exploring the ways in which art pieces can be incorporated into fashion.

Bradley Ingram wearing cap ornate with sweat crystals
Participant Bradley Ingram wearing his sweat crystal cap

"I'd always wanted to create something with wearable sweat crystals, transforming my artwork into fashion pieces," Potts said.

"By examining individuals who engage in sports, follow vegan diets, lead active office lifestyles and immerse themselves in rave culture, the collection challenges conventional notions of sweat and its representation in fashion."

Saskia Martin sweat cap crystals from behind
Saskia Martin's cap crystallised with sweat

Potts has a history of experimenting with developing biomaterials and has previously created collections using sweat and tears, as well as bioplastic face shields made from food waste.

Other biomaterial fashion stories recently featured on Dezeen include Stella McCartney's jumpsuit made with iridescent BioSequins and a biomaterial fabric made from bacterial fermentation.

The photography is by James Stopforth.

INPerspire is on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada from May 27 to October 9 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

More images

Alan Vantstone
Crystallised sweat of Alan Vantstone
Bradley Ingram sweat cap
Crystallised sweat of Bradley Ingram