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U.S. Soy Selects Winner for Inaugural NEXTILE: Soy in Textile Design Challenge

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (March 27, 2024) — U.S. Soy selected Kasandra Wright from the University of Arkansas as the national innovative winner of its first-ever NEXTILE: The Soy in Textiles Design Challenge. In its inaugural year, design students across the country were invited to leverage their creative and problem-solving skills to produce the next sustainable innovation in textile design. The catch? Students must create their products using one versatile ingredient — soybeans.

Each participating individual or team received a design kit including seven sustainable, soy-based materials: soy thread, soy leather, soy French Terry, organic pigment and other soy products. Project submissions leveraged one or more of these ingredients to produce new textile threads, dyes, paints, designs and more. Judges from the United Soybean Board, Levander Design, Springs Creative Products Group, and Modern Meadow selected the winner and runner-up.

“It’s been incredible to see how our soybeans come to life in the creative hands of these talented students,” said Carla Schultz, Michigan soybean farmer and United Soybean Board director, who served as a judge of the competition. “I’m so impressed with their designs — they were artful, progressive and captivating. I’m beyond excited by the creative thinking we saw in the inaugural NEXTILE Challenge. I’m excited for the future of each competitor who participated and for the future of soy.”

The winner, Wright, created a stunning moth design textile sample, symbolizing transformation, survival and new beginnings. As the winner, Wright will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

“Throughout this experience, I learned about the importance of what soy-based products can provide in the apparel and textile industry,” Wright said. “Soy fiber has an excellent drape and is a beautiful alternative to protein fibers as a sustainable material for apparel.”

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Figure 2: Runner-Up Anna Stuffelbeam’s foliage appliqué textile

Judges awarded second-place runner-up Anna Stuffelbeam of North Carolina State University a $500 scholarship for her foliage appliqué sample inspired by the plants that made up her fabric’s materials — soy, pomegranate and madder.

U.S. Soy has long been a critical ingredient for product innovation, going all the way back to Henry Ford, who used soy-based paints, textile materials and plastics for automobile design. Soy is used in every industry. Farmers can find their products in the streets they drive on, the shoes they wear and the biofuels for their vehicles. The possibilities are endless. There are more than 1,000 soy-based products currently on the market — from tires and dust suppressants to fabrics and turf. You name an industry, and U.S. Soy is almost always an essential component.

U.S. soybean farmers and industry partners consistently push the limits of innovation to discover and deliver solutions to the most significant challenges our world faces, such as food security and climate change. NEXTILE was created to put sustainable soy materials into the hands of the brightest young minds in design to create the next generation of eco-friendly textile solutions.

The national winner was chosen from a pool of students who advanced past the first round of judging. The six participating schools included: the University of Arkansas, North Carolina State University, Kansas City Art Institute, Pratt Institute, Savannah College of Art and Design, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Learn more about NEXTILE, the participating schools and students, and the next round of soy-based sustainable innovation at www.ussoy.org/nextile.

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