Fashion is a mode of expression. It has evolved over the decades to come to become the magnificent version it is today. Over this time fashion has been changed and influenced by pop culture, style icons, politics, and various movements even. While we remained dazzled by the colors and glamour of the fashion industry, it became one of the grandest environmental polluters. All the more reason for it to be influenced by environmental concerns now.
As global citizens are becoming more and more aware of environmental factors, they prefer eco-friendly solutions to everything. The fashion industry is also trying to match that need of consumers.
To match the market trend, Bangladesh is now producing pineapple fiber- a great organic alternative. But it is no new invention, pina fiber has been a part of Filipino culture since the Spanish colonization. But it became the talk of the town in 2015 when the former US president Barack Obama sported a Barong Tagalog- an embroidered shirt sewn from pina fiber- at a global meeting in Manila. And now, the 15th century Filipino tradition is paving its way to today’s fashion industry.
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING: JOURNEY SO FAR
Since the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, the fashion industry has shown tremendous interest in ethical and sustainable fashion. Brands and organizations focused on educating consumers to make better fashion choices.
Fashion waste is costing billions of dollars every year. Even if we do put aside this economic damage, we can’t deny the lasting mark it’s leaving on our environment. If we factor in the water and energy need, non-renewable materials, harmful chemicals, the impact on soil health, animal cruelty and many other issues- the damage is unfathomable.
So, with time the consumers have grown more socially aware and environmentally responsible to cope with these challenges. Consumers are preferring organic textiles more than ever before, and the brands are here to provide what the customers need. Many global brands like Levi’s, Everlane, Eileen Fisher, Polo Ralph Lauren are leaning towards sustainable fashion.
PINA FIBER PRODUCTION IN BANGLADESH
Pina fiber has taken the whole world by storm since 2015. Fashion industries and consumers were in awe of this beautiful, fashionable yet eco-friendly organic fiber. And Bangladeshi organizations were also stepping forward. Since organic fiber production was a great source for women’s economic empowerment, the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry(BWCCI) took a step forward. Jointly with BURO Bangladesh, they organized a workshop for commercial expansion of pineapple leaves and fiber-based products in May 2016.
Bangladesh grows an abundance of pineapple in Madhupur, Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban. Clearly, we had an abundance of raw material in hand, all we needed were enthusiastic entrepreneurs. And that’s where Dawood Farhan the MD of Desher Jonno Argo Ltd, stepped in. Fiber Resource Center(FRC), a sister concern of D J Argo Ltd. has pioneered the manufacture of pineapple fiber, yarn and fabric on a commercial level in Bangladesh.
Dawood was first awed by this beautiful fabric in the Philippines and after further study, he saw the huge absence of entrepreneurial advancement in this field despite plenty of possibilities in our country. His interest led him to the Mennonite Central Committee(MCC) who had their own research in this field and thus began the journey of pina fiber in Bangladesh.
CHANGE IN BANGLADESHI FASHION AND GARMENT INDUSTRY
The pina project by FRC has opened many doors in our industry. Both Dawood and MCC had a mutual goal in mind- creating opportunities for minorities. So they actualized it and created employment opportunities for indigenous, deprived, and sexually exploited women. Moreover, this group of strong determined women is led by Umaima Dawood, the current head of the pina yarn project. Pina fiber can be blended easily with cotton, abaca, silk creating a tremendous fashion palette.
In a world where we are all trying to be a little more kind toward nature and animals, vegan leather made of pina leaves is one of the greatest eco-friendly materials. Many international brands like Puma and Camper have used it for footwear prototypes. So, needless to say, the pina fiber has more ways to grow and contribute to reducing animal cruelty.
ORGANIC FIBERS AND SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Due to technology and the global supply chain, fast fashion is quickly meeting new trends resulting in 60% of clothing being discarded by consumers within the very first year. As a result, our environment is taking a heavy toll. The alternative is evident- sustainable fabrics.
The Global Organic Textile Standard(GOTS), the international certification for organic textile, noticed enormous growth in certified operation in 2019 and the number will only go higher.
In such a growing market the demand for organic fibers is only going up. With today’s sustainability challenges we must rethink our production and consumption in the textile and fashion industry. This great initiative of pina fiber manufacture by Dawood is one stellar example of such. But the sustainable goal doesn’t end there. Many other possibilities like banana leaf fiber, orange fiber are right around the corner. It only needs the right care to flourish.
By Maisha Farzana