Sustainable fashion is slowly becoming the talk of the town. More and more designers and brands are experimenting with natural fibres that make great clothes and accessories without harming the environment. In our effort to undo the damage, we’re going back to fabrics and raw materials we used a few decades ago. But we’re also venturing forward and exploring non-traditional, yet natural and sustainable materials that make really trendy, long-lasting — and more importantly biodegradable — bags, belts, wallets and other accessories. Here are a few materials that are creating waves in the fashion and sustainability space.
Banana fibre is derived from banana stem and leaves, which was considered to be an agricultural waste and a nuisance to farmers until recently. Now it is being used all over the world for multiple purposes from making biodegradable tea bags to saris, sanitary pads, currency notes and even tyres. Fashion industry generally prefers the fibres from banana leaves as they are softer and hence, more versatile. The banana leaves are soaked until they can be separated in two layers, which can then be cut into thin strips, twisted and rolled into strings that are then handwoven into bags and baskets. Artisans also add natural dyes in the processing stage. The result is irresistibly beautiful.
Derived from the barks of cork trees, cork makes for a 100% natural, water-resistant, fireproof and low-maintenance alternative to leather. Harvesting cork from the trees is a simple and harmless process. In a sustainable system, cultivators strip the bark of the trees and allow it to naturally regenerate over a period of 9 years. This bark is then softened, sliced and mounted on a backing before it’s sent to the design studio. Cork fabric is water-resistant, anti-fungal, strong and durable. They may seem like a steep investment, but with just a little care, bags and wallets made from cork fabric can last decades.
Water hyacinths are one of the fastest growing water weeds known to man. They grow on the surface of the water, choking off sunlight and oxygen supply to aquatic plants and marine life underwater, and slowly killing the fishes. Until recently, this plant was a pest that fish farmers spent a lot of money to control. Today, it is supporting a thriving handicraft industry that’s creating beautiful bags, wallets, baskets, mats and other home decor and fashion accessory products.
These products are strong, durable and low maintenance. The women artisans in Hampi and North East handicraft societies have now started partnering with fashion designers to create products that appeal to the larger urban audience.
Though this material is not bio-degradable, we thought it would make a fitting addition to this list due to its role in the upcycling community and circular economy. Tyres are made to withstand extreme conditions, making them the perfect raw material for everyday rugged use products. What more, they’re cruelty-free, scratch proof, water and weatherproof. ___ makes beautiful laptop bags, sleeves, coin pouches and more with used tyres that would have otherwise been incinerated or dumped in landfills.
GoNative has a curated collection of bags, wallets, pouches, and more made from eco-friendly and upcycled materials. Drop in to our store to check ‘em out and pick’em up.