Are you wearing bananas? The green apparel of the future

Banana fibre is gaining popularity in the fashion industry as many renowned clothing lines and fashion designers are embracing fabric made from banana.  The banana fibre is preferred because it is eco-friendly and biodegradable compared to other synthetic fibres.

With increasing awareness and growing importance of sustainable products, banana fibres have been increasingly used in making apparel.

An article by reveals that in India, one of the world's largest banana producers with an annual output of 24.8 million tonnes and which accounts for 22 per cent of the global banana production, the banana fibre is increasingly being used in making apparel.

“In the past, the use of banana fibre was limited. It was chiefly used for making mats, ropes and some composite products. With increasing awareness and growing importance of sustainable products, banana fibres have been increasingly used in making apparel, paper, footwear, handbags and home furnishings. In Japan, banana fibre is used for making traditional kimono and kamishimo dress. In Japan, people still prefer to wear dresses made from banana fabric as summer wear,” reads the article.

Historically, banana stems had been used as a source of fibre with the earliest evidence dating to the 13th century. But its popularity faded after other convenient fibres such as cotton and silk were made popular. For centuries, banana fibre textiles were made in Japan and Nepal.

Today, banana fibre is used all over world for multiple purposes. Commercial value of the fibre has increased over the years. Transforming the waste into a usable fabric and other products is a great achievement.

Apart from providing textiles, the banana fibre production also provides employment opportunities to thousands of poor people in India.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in his 2022 New Year address urged the population to be industrial in agriculture and do more value addition citing banana as the best example.

"Bananas are another example of the need to modernize in order to stop the under-utilization of the land we have…"

Banana production is the one-way ticket to address food and income security problems in the country.

In Uganda, TEXFAD company, is leading in utilising banana fibre by turning banana waste into fiber that can be used for home goods like rugs, clothes, place mats, and baskets.

Cheveux Organique, also a Ugandan company, makes 100% banana fibre hair extensions. Organic & homegrown alternative to plastic synthetic hair.

Wearing bananas? What banana fabric is like

Banana fabric is beautiful, animal-free textile with a natural sheen that replicates real silk and is a great choice for sustainable and eco-friendly textile. The quality of the fibre inside the stem varies and hence it can be used to produce different types of fabrics. The inner fibres of the stem are very fine and smooth, and have a natural shine. They are used to produce smoothest textiles like kimonos and saris. The outer strands are coarse hence they can be used for basket weaving and making handbags. Banana fibre has a high moisture absorption quality. The water is absorbed and released quickly. In summers, a shirt made from banana fabric is considered very comfortable due to its quality of water absorption. (Article extract of Fibre2fashion).

It is reported that many designers and banana fabric manufacturers opt for banana fabric due to its lustre, affordability and eco-friendliness. There are very few fabrics in the textile industry which can be used for fire resistance clothing and manufactured at low cost, and banana fabric is one of them.

Eco-friendly fabric of the future

Fabric made from banana fibre can be termed as the next green apparel of the future. F Fibre2Fashion reveals that researchers of Clothing and Textile department at MS University, Baroda (Gujarat) designed woven and nonwoven fabric from the banana fibre and according to their researchers, the fabric can be cheaper than cotton and linen if it is produced in large scale.

Fabrics made from these fibres have good shine, are light weight, have quick moisture absorption quality and look similar to linen. It can work as an environment friendly substitute to many popular fabrics.

About banana fibre:

The fibres are obtained from the stem of the banana plant after the fruit is harvested. Banana fibre is also used to produce curtains, bags, cushion covers, neck ties etc. Nepalese hand-knotted banana silk fibre rugs are made from bleached and dried banana fibres. These rugs are renowned all over the world.

Currently, banana fibre is widely used as blending material in the textile sector. There's a high demand for it in countries like United States of America, Malaysia, Korea, European Union and Philippines. Japan's currency, the Yen, is made out of banana fibre.

So, exporting banana fibre will bring substantial foreign exchange to banana growing countries which includes Uganda.

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