Banana Fabric   

An appealing alternative to Silk
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Silk production originated in China thousands of years ago. Due to its beautiful appearance and soft luxurious feel it has maintained its popularity to this day. So, why would anyone consider such an unconventional alternative? To most Americans, banana fiber fabrics may seem like a relatively new concept. Yet, this material was first produced in Japan as far back as the 13th century.  Banana fibers have the same natural shine and supple feel as silk.  They can also be used for for similar manufacturing purposes. While the introduction of silks and cotton from China greatly reduced the demand, recent years have seen a strong resurgence of interest in this unique fabric. We'll explore the reasons why...
banana fabric in wicker basket
Banana Fabrics
silk fabrics n basket
silk Fabrics
At a glance, banana fabrics and silk look and feel remarkably similar. These delicate, beautiful materials both offer a certain style and elegance all their own. Each flaunts bright, vibrant colors, while being light weight and soft to the touch. Of course, silk has long dominated the the market for this type of material.  But, concerns over production methods have recently created consumer demand for an alternative fabrics, such as banana fiber.

Benefits of Banana Fabric Compared to Silk

  • Strength of Fabric: Industry experts believe that banana fibers are stronger and more durable than Silk 
  • Eco-Friendly: Banana fabrics are sustainable and renewable
  • Vegan: No animals were  are harmed during the making of this fabric
  • Economical: Banana fabrics are less expensive than Silk
  • Soft & Comfortable: Banana fibers are equally soft and luxurious as silk  
  • Available in Bright Beautiful Colors : Both banana fabrics and silk take and retain a wide range of colors 
  • Water-Resistance: Silk fabric is susceptible to water damage. Banana fabric is water, heat & flame resistant 

How Silk Fibers are Produced

silk worm on silk fabric
Silk fabrics are woven from fibers obtained from silkworm cocoons. These fabrics have been sought after for centuries due to the unique beauty, softness and strength of this material. Yet, as growing consumer awareness about production methods increase, a dark shadow has emerged over the industry.

Silkworms are breed and harvested specifically for fabric production. During this process, these worms are literally steamed of gassed alive while still in their cocoons.  This allows manufacturers to access fibers that are woven into silk. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), estimates 2,500 silkworms are killed to make just one pound of silk.  PETA and other animal rights organizations strongly condemn this practice. Instead, they recommend the usage of alternative cruelty free, natural fabrics. 

How Banana Fibers are Produced

banana fibers drying on line
While having a similar appearance to palm trees, the term “tree”, as it pertains to bananas, is a misnomer. Bananas are actually fast growing tropical plants technically classified as herbs. Mature plants grow to 12'- 20' within 15-18 months. Once the plant bears fruit, they die and another plant grows from the previous plants roots. Banana fibers are often sourced from the Abaca variety which bears non edible fruit. Other times, farms harvesting banana crops collect what would normally be waste to use for banana fiber production. Stems, leaves and even peels can all be used. Fibers are extracted from the pulp before they are dried under the sun prior to processing. 

While modern machinery is now available, much of this work is still done by hand. Another big plus is pesticides and insecticides are generally not necessary to grow these crops. Less energy usage with little to no waste translates to many great environmental benefits. Banana fibers fabrics are also biodegradable. 
Affiliate Disclosure: may receive a small commission on sales of some of the featured products throughout this site. That said, we pride ourselves on honest content and product evaluations.

Availability of Banana Fabric Clothing

valani banana collection
Recent years have seen many manufacturers experiment with adding banana fabric clothing to their product lines. Still, availability is relatively sparce. Valani is one company that has made a major commitment to to producing vegan, eco-friendly fashions. Their product includes clothing made with vegan, plant based fabrics like, banana fabrics, hemp and Tencel. 

See Valani's full Banana Collection and other, Eco-friendly fashions.

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