People have been making clothes from plants for hundreds of years. But evolving fashion innovation from plants proves that there is so much more innovation to be done. Flax and hemp are pretty common ones that have been used throughout history. Ancient Egyptians used linen, which came from the flax plant.
Fashion innovation from plants – Hemp
Hemp is making a comeback in today’s clothing. Their fabrics are stronger, more durable, more absorbent, antibacterial, and they insulate better than cotton. The hemp plant roots leave the soil rich for future crops. It also produces more fiber per acre than cotton. It’s a fast growing plant that needs little water and no pesticides. New fashion innovation from plants may combine hemp with cotton or other fabrics to create new products. More than 50 percent of the global hemp production is in China and they hold more than half of the 600 plus international patents on hemp fibers and textile production.
Now you can drink your pina coladas and wear them too. If you love leather but don’t want to wear animal skins you can wear leather made from pineapple leaves. The product is called Pinatex. The leaf fibres they use are actually a by product from the Philippines after their pineapple harvest is over. They extract the fibres from the leaves and turn them into a nonwoven fabric that greatly resembles leather. It’s strong and versatile, but is also soft and flexible.
Fashion innovation from plants – Citrus
Innovative fashion fabrics can be made from plant fibres, but also from the pulp of fruit like oranges and lemons. Artificial cellulose is made from the pulp. It is then converted into textile fibers and ultimately woven into fabric. Citrus fabric resembles silk and can be used to make fancy shirts, scarves and sweaters. Tons of citrus pulp by products are thrown away every year. I think this is a trend to try and use more plant by products in many different ways, not just for fashion.
Banana fashion innovation
In the future we may be able to wear all of our favorite fruits. Another example is banana, whose fibre is one of the strongest natural fibres in the world. Made from the stem of the banana tree, its durable fibre is similar to bamboo, only better.
Bamboo fashion innovation
Bamboo fabric has been around for centuries and multiple patents have been taken out on them. It’s a plant that you will see more of in the future as it is plentiful and grows in places that many plants couldn’t grow. You can grow bamboo in rich and poor soil, and it’s renewable and biodegradable. There are about 50 different varieties that can be used for commercial purposes. And bamboo grows very quickly.
As a fabric it makes sense because it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and is very absorbent. This sounds like a great material for outdoor sports where you want to wear clothes you can actually sweat in.
Stores have been stocking bamboo clothing for a while now, and I see that trend getting bigger in the future, as it will with other fashion innovation from plants.