Fashion fabrics made out of fruit waste–sounds totally bananas (excuse the pun), right? Well, the rising interest in vegan textiles and leather is certainly gaining momentum beyond some niche fashion and accessories companies as both the luxury and mass fashion markets are showing a growing demand for these products–yippee! Companies seeking an alternative to synthetic fabrics have found a solution in the byproducts of the food industry.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) reports that fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage of all food products. At a staggering 45%, fruit and vegetables are often not even harvested or simply discard due to their appearance.
Spotting a gap in the market, the following companies have focused on creating products via a circular economy by closing material and energy loops in their manufacturing processes, thereby creating a virtually zero-waste product. Using fruit waste as a raw material, they are effectively creating materials that are suitable for fashion, footwear, and accessories. Here are the top five brands and collaborations that are peeling away the fashion industry’s outdated practices.
Orange Fiber transforms citrus juice byproducts into sustainable textiles while reducing waste and pollution. With over 700.000 tons of citrus waste produced in Italy every year and no real use of the byproduct within the food industry, Orange Fiber developed an innovative technology to create a sustainable textile. Co-founders Enrica Arena and Adriana Santanocito recognized the potential of the waste generated by the Sicilian citrus fruit industry and created a new fiber, which they released into the market in 2017. They receive the citrus waste with the pulp extracted and then use the cellulose fibers to weave sustainable fabrics that are silky to the touch.
Orange Fiber x Ferragamo is the first luxury goods company to collaborate with Orange Fiber on a capsule collection. This illustrates the growing demand and interest in high-quality sustainable fabrics within the luxury fashion sector.
Frumat transforms waste from the apple industry into materials that can be used for fashion, footwear, and accessories. The company uses waste from the apple food industry (specifically the skin) to create a sustainable material that is totally compostable and recyclable–how cool is that? The end result is a material that not only looks and feels just like leather but also has the durability of leather, showing that a sustainable alternative is totally achievable without compromising on appearance or quality.
The Italian company Vegea have been able to combine fashion and wine by creating a material entirely derived from the large Italian winemaking industry, aka Wine Leather. The biomaterial is obtained by processing the grape marc; that’s the skins, seeds and stems, which are discarded or burned as a means of waste disposal during wine production. The material is an eco-friendly and cruelty-free alternative that can be applied in fashion and interior and automotive design.
In 2017, Vegea was awarded the H&M Global Change Award, which will fund the continued development and production of the company. This shows positive progress in the fashion industry through the interest and backing of alternatives to animal and synthetic leather by a fast fashion giant.
Pinatex is a sustainable textiles made out of pineapple leaves that requires no extra water, fertilizers, or pesticides to produce. The pineapple leaves are a byproduct of pineapple harvesting and provide additional income to farmers in pineapple-growing countries. The result is a natural and incredibly versatile material that comes in various thicknesses and is easily mass-produced. The Pinatex leather is durable, water-resistant, and pliable. This great leather alternative is gaining popularity especially amongst ethical footwear brands like Nae Vegan and Bourgeois Boheme who are already incorporating Pinatex into their collections.
Fruitleather is not just a delicious healthy treat but in this case a collaboration between Koen Meerkerk and Hugo de Boon, recent graduates of Willem de Kooning academy in Rotterdam. Their focus is on creating a circular business with a zero waste economy by showing positive ways in which discarded fruit can be used to create products.
They collect fruit that will be discarded from fruit importers in the Netherlands, then use an eco-friendly process to turn the fruit waste into a leather-like material that can, in turn, be used in place of traditional leather products. The end product is far more environmentally and animal friendly. Although the project is still in development, it highlights interests such as a circular economy, zero-waste, and sustainable materials that the fashion industry is gravitating towards.
Do you have any cute fashion items made from fruit fiber?
Get more like this—Subscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photos: Food and Agricultural Organization, Orange Fiber, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fruitleather Instagram, Frumat Instagram, Vegea, Global Change Award, Ananas Anam, Nae Vegan and Bourgeois Boheme.