By Nisha Khater
What can clothing be made from? As discussions on sustainability continue, this question that was asked during the rise of fast fashion and mass clothing production is now being repurposed. In the 1900s, the question led to innovation in the production of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. However, we are now starting to realize the harmful effects of these synthetic textiles. Clothing made from them can take over 500 years to decompose, filling landfills for long periods of time. As we uncover these harmful effects, the question has been re-framed with a focus on eco-friendly and natural materials to make clothing from.
So what can clothing really be made from? In California, a biotech company creates alternatives to leather from fungi. Meanwhile in the Philippines, banana plants are reworked into textiles used for clothing, placements, and more. In Rwanda, a brand transforms old car tires into colorful, printed sandals. All around us, pioneers in the industry are taking the materials that traditionally would not be considered “wearable” and turning them into clothing we could easily add to our closets.
Title photo by Uzuri K&Y, a Rwandan brand creating sandals from old car tires.