How Is Banana Peel Clothing Made?

Banana peel fibre is one of the most sustainable fabric alternatives on the market. Made from the outer and inner peel of a banana skin, it is a technique that has been used in South Asian countries for hundreds of years, turning the waste from banana fruit into a luxurious and sustainable fabric.

A bunch of bananas laying flat on a grey stone worktop

But just what is a banana fibre made from exactly? And is it a viable alternative to similar materials that already exist? Read on to discover why you shouldn’t just be eating bananas but adding them to your wardrobe. 

Let’s take a closer look at the latest fabric to take centre stage in Jayley’s sustainable range. 

Table of contents:

What is banana fabric made from?

How is banana fibre made?

What is banana fabric called?

What is banana fibre used for?

Is banana fibre expensive?

Jayley’s banana peel collection 

What is banana fabric made from?

A banana tree with a large number of bananas on it

Banana fabric is made from the waste left over from banana fruit. The yarn used to make banana fabric is spun from strands derived from both the soft inner and coarse outer linings of banana peel and banana stems and stalks left behind once bananas are harvested.

Because it completely uses waste that would otherwise be discarded, banana fibre is a perfect plant-based alternative to silk and offers minimal environmental impact. In fact, even when compared to other natural fibres, it’s a sustainability hero. 

The process of turning banana waste into fabric has been done for centuries in South Asian countries. The Philippines was the first country to utilise banana fibres; this group of islands is home to an abundance of banana trees. The country’s native people have been making banana fabric there for years. 

Although other Asian countries experimented with banana fabric, it was never as popular as in the Philippines. In recent years, while looking for more sustainable alternatives, the Western fashion world caught on to banana fabric’s appeal. 

Nowadays, most banana fabric is produced in India, with very small amounts still being produced in the Philippines.

India produces 28.4 million tonnes of bananas per year, so it makes sense that they are also the largest producer of banana fibre. Most manufacturers make their fibres using sustainable and organic practices, making banana fibre almost carbon neutral. 

However, there’s no guarantee that all banana fibre production is carried out sustainably by every manufacturer; in some cases, synthetic pesticides are still used on banana crops. 

Following sustainable practices, banana fibre can be made without impacting the environment. Whilst there’s very little certification in the banana fibre industry, buyers of banana fibre should look to banana farmers with an organic certification for their banana crops, as safe and sustainable fibre comes from safely grown, pesticide-free, organic bananas. 

How is banana fibre made?

Banana fibre is created following a four-step process:

  1. Separation 

The fibres from the banana stems and peel are separated from the unusable parts of the waste either by one of two methods. The most common method is retting, which involves soaking the banana peels in water (or, in some cases, chemicals) to soften and separate the fibres from the waste. 

Another method sees the unusable parts of the banana waste sliced off, but this method is less often used as it is more labour-intensive. 

  1. Drying 

Once soaked, the banana fibres are bunched together and left to dry. At this stage, the inner and outer fibres are kept together as they are difficult to sort and separate when wet. 

Brown, string-like banana fibres hanging down in bunches
  1. Fibres are divided 

Once the fibres dry out, they’re separated into different groups based on their quality. ‘A’ is the best quality group and is usually composed of soft inner fibres from the stems and peel. It’s group A that is usually used for silk alternatives. The individual manufacturer decides the number of quality groups for the fibres.

  1. Spinning 

Once the fibres are separated into their groups, they are spun into yarn and then treated and dyed (usually using natural and sustainable processes) before being woven into products. 

What is banana fabric called?

Many different names and terms are used to describe different types of banana fabric. Here are the most popular:

  • Musa fibre – another name given to banana fibre.
  • Banana cotton – this describes a higher quality version of the outer peel fibres. It’s sometimes referred to as banana cotton as it shares similar characteristics to actual cotton.
  • Banana silk – the name given to the soft silk fabric made from the inner peel of banana fibre.
  • Inner peel – the part of the banana waste that banana silk comes from. The fabric is soft like silk and is generally quite expensive to produce.
  • Outer peel – the rough and coarse fabric most commonly used for ropes, doormats, some outerwear and thicker garments. 

What is banana fibre used for?

A white blonde woman wears a banana fabric blend jumper with green smily faces on it

Banana fibre is used for many different products, depending on the fibre used. 

The inner peel is so soft that it’s commonly used as a more ethical alternative to silk. Scarves, gloves and hats are often made from banana fibre as the demand for more sustainable products continues to increase.

The fibres from the outer peel are more commonly used in industry or for homeware due to their coarse quality. Doormats, ropes, wall weaves, and tropical-themed decor are all popularly made from banana fibre. 

Clothing made completely from banana fibre has many positive characteristics due to its natural makeup. It’s breathable and moisture-wicking for comfortable wear and isn’t known for pilling or bobbling. However, banana fabric isn’t great at retaining heat, so it’s often used to make more lightweight, breathable clothing. 

As it’s delicate, you should wash banana silk in cold or warm temperatures to keep it at its best. 

Is banana fibre expensive? 

Organic banana fibre might be a nature hero, but high-quality fabric made from the inner peel is expensive. Offering the same lustrous qualities as silk, it’s much more ethical to produce than traditional silk, which is why it’s so worthy of investment.

The fabric made from the rough outer lining of the peel is a lot cheaper to produce, which is why it’s currently more readily available. 

Sourcing organic banana fibre will always be more expensive than conventional banana fibre. However, conventional banana fabric made using cheaper practices may have undergone contamination from pesticides and toxic chemicals that can pass down the chain and into the fabric.

Banana fabric: The Highlights  

Banana fabric is one of the most sustainable plant-based alternatives on the market. When made using organic bananas and safe processes that are chemical-free, fabrics made from 100% organic banana fibre are biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free, and almost carbon-neutral to produce.

More ethical and animal-friendly than silk and less water-intensive than cotton, although organic fibre can be expensive, it can be turned into lustrous fabrics that are completely planet-kind. Utilising the billion tons of banana peels wasted each year, banana fibre turns them into something more useful. 

Jayley’s Banana Peel Collection 

A white woman with blonde hair poses in a cream banana fabric blend cardigan covered in red love hearts

If you’re looking for some banana peel to add to your wardrobe, look no further than our collection at Jayley. From banana peel coats made from 100% banana peel to our knitwear range made from a blend of banana peel and Rayon, lyocell and cashmere, it’s never been easier to take your first steps towards a more eco-friendly wardrobe. 

Each piece in our banana peel collection has full details on its composition in its description for full transparency, so you’ll always be aware of what you’re investing in when you shop with us. Explore the full banana peel collection today to find your favourite pieces. 

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