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Vegan fashion ep.1: An apple a day helps brands pave the way

A ‘fashion table’ set with vegan products made from fruit waste and more: this is not just mere imagination but a promising sustainable textile revolution. Already an existing reality, this growing sector is pioneered by groundbreaking trailblazers who are increasingly capturing the attention of discerning consumers who want to become more conscious about their purchases.

Compostable fruit waste

Compostable fruit waste

With people shocked at the environmental impact of mass leather production and chemical tanning and now considering whether they should look to rid their wardrobes of animal products, cruelty-free fashion is a fast-growing trend. Over the last decade, the fashion industry has embraced sustainability and circular economy by improving production processes and using new materials to protect the environment, fighting climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss while reducing carbon emissions, chemicals and heavy metals. In a nutshell, more and more players are now working and investing their resources in transforming fashion from one of the most polluting industries to a regenerative, more humane sector that takes care of both the environment and the people involved in its complex supply chain.

Besides, in recent years, dozens of start-ups and innovators have developed sustainable materials for the fashion industry by using natural sources, traditional knowledge and advanced biotechnology techniques to replace fur, leather, animal skins and even wool and silk. We are talking about fashion biomaterials made from plant leaves, fruit waste, mycelium (the vegetative, threadlike part of fungi) and lab-grown microorganisms to replace animal-derived textiles. Experimenting toward a new fashion paradigm, companies are now working with cactus and pineapple leaves, grape skins and seeds, apple juice, banana stalks and coconut water, but also algae and orange peel. As biodegradable as possible, these materials ideally eliminate animal products and incorporate responsible practices in their production chains, protecting animals and humanity by caring for a sustainable lifestyle based on respect for the planet and the fight against waste. This ambitious goal is yielding results.

Let’s dwell on these new vegan textiles that aim to replace leathers used to produce accessories and clothing. Unlike animal skins, these lab-created (we may also say artificial) materials are conceived using resources of vegetable origin mixed with substances of natural or synthetic origin.

 

All you need is apples: Italian company Frumat’s transformation of organic industrial residues from apple juice production into new raw materials

Let’s focus more on fruit: the vegan fashion spotlight is on the apple. Founded in 2009, the Italian company Frumat introduced AppleSkin, a 100% Italian sustainable material created by recycling apple processing waste in Bolzano. 

Italian company Frumat uses apple peel to create AppleSkin

Italian company Frumat uses apple peel to create AppleSkin

Called ‘Cartamela’ (apple paper in Italian because it looks like a sheet of paper), the material is obtained by squeezing the cores and skins of apples. Chosen today by designers, start-ups, and major fashion houses to make bags, clothing and footwear, the Italian company has paved the way for cruelty-free fashion collections.

 

“We live in a world where resources become scarcer by the day. Time to make a change,” says Fruitleather Rotterdam as they transform leftover fruits into a leather-like material

To stay on topic, a duo of young Dutch researchers from Rotterdam has transformed apricot, apple, and orange waste into an innovative material: a fruit leather-like alternative, proving that even food waste can be reused. The material is constantly improved and it is made without any toxic solvent and includes natural fibre backings and cotton, making it biodegradable. The company, Fruitleather Rotterdam, now uses mango waste as this fruit has proved to work very well.

/marangoniFruitleather mango sheet (rodeo natural and rodeo black samples) by Fruitleather Rotterdam Company

Fruitleather mango sheet (rodeo natural and rodeo black samples) by Fruitleather Rotterdam Company

 

Repurposing waste pineapple leaves into sustainable vegan textiles: it’s Ananas Anam’s mission

From apples to pineapples: founded by Spanish ethical entrepreneur and leathergoods expert Dr Carmen Hijosa, the company Ananas Anam launched Piñayarn, a natural, compostable and low-impact yarn made from waste pineapple leaf fibres. 

Ananas Anam, the pioneer company of innovative natural textiles from pineapple waste

Ananas Anam, the pioneer company of innovative natural textiles from pineapple waste

 “Piñayarn offers a 100% plant-based, recyclable, and biodegradable textile solution for a world otherwise dominated by petroleum-based textiles and resource-intense virgin fibres,” they stated. “The fibres used to create Piñayarn are an agricultural waste product, which means that no extra land, water or pesticides are required to produce the raw material. Through waste valorisation, Piñayarn reduces the amount of burnt pineapple leaves, saving up to 6 kg of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere per 1 kg of yarn produced.”

Moreover, their sustainable natural, non-woven, low-impact textile Piñatex is strong, durable, flexible, light, and breathable. But it is not just about the low environmental impact of their products: Anam Ananas provides positive social and economic impact by introducing new jobs in rural areas while providing a second and diversified income stream to pineapple farmers.

 

 

Simona Schiappucci
Design methods, Collection Development and Accessories Design Tutor, Milan
Course
Programme
undergraduate-BA (Hons) Degrees · 3-Year courses