Rooted in the love for textiles and craft, our mission to #ChangeBeyondTextiles has driven us to champion for sustainable materials. Made from the fruit tree itself, banana fibre has been used since the early 13th century. When our search for more sustainable fabrics led us to this strong yet flexible natural fibre, we knew wanted to work with it. This eventually led to our banana fibre Pyramid Tops, designed to be durable in nature and soft to the skin. Here’s a little more about the material:
It is an Ancient Raw Material
Yes, banana fibre has been around for centuries. These fibers, also known as musa fibre, can be traced back to 13th Century Japan, where the common musa basjoo species of banana plant originates. Traditionally, they were a prized substitute for silk, woven into ceremonial garments for the wealthy, and even used to weave carpets and ropes for ships. But as the textile industry began developing new ways to produce fibres, other petroleum-based synthetic fibres became more popular.
Today, the pendulum is once again swinging back to natural fibres, and banana fibre is gaining popularity because of its versatility. Meaning, technological advancements are able to value add to its use, and scale up its sustainable production. Now, banana fibre can now be found in the production of tea bags, casing for sausages, vacuum bags, insulation for buildings and even banknotes!
Its Natural Properties Make Sustainable Clothes
Beyond a love for the sweet fruit, there are many other beneficial characteristics of banana fibre that make it a preferred choice for farmers to grow. Here are some of them:
1. Rapidly Renewable
Disclaimer: This will sound a little more technical than usual, so bear with us for a while.
Unlike most hardwood fruit-bearing trees like apple and pear trees, banana plants only fruit once in their lifetime. After the fruit is harvested, the stem dies naturally, but a new parent plant is able to quickly grow again. This is because the plant has a unique underground stem and root system that supports generations of young offshoots. These offshoots are always ready to emerge from the soil and grow into a new parent plant. In the past, the stem was seen as an agricultural waste, chopped down after fruit harvest to encourage growth. Today, technology has advanced to allow the stem to be used as a raw material to produce silk grade fibre for local handicrafts and textile industries.
Insider Note: Yarn extraction machines for banana fibre are simple to use and cheap to buy, which means they’re highly accessible to banana farmers. It makes for an extra income, which adds a social dimension to the fibre.
2. Soft but sturdy
Banana fibre cloths are made from extracts from the leaf sheath of the stem. The quality of the fibres in the leaf sheaths varies, so the types of textile produced vary too, making banana fibre a versatile alternative to other fabrics. Generally, the weight and thickness of the banana fibre cloth depends on the part of the stem fibre was taken from – innermost sheaths produce the softest fibres, while outer sheaths produce coarser and sturdier fibres.
3. Lightweight and durable
The chemical composition of banana fibre makes it a highly breathable and lightweight material. It has a naturally high water absorption, making the material cooling to the skin. On top of this, the fibre has a natural sheen and is tear resistant, water resistant and fire resistant (Hello, powerful fibre much?). Which explains why they were once used for fishing nets, power transmissions and other kind of cordage.
Banana fibre is a versatile, sustainable raw material. We loved working with it, and are excited to expand our collection of banana fibre tops. So keep a look out for that in the near future 😉
Explore the range here.