Blog: Leonie BarrieFruit and fibres

Leonie Barrie | 18 September 2003

Demand for natural fibres has spawned some rather exotic materials – from bamboo and bison hair – all of which are hailed as the ‘next big thing’ for clothing applications but rarely shine beyond the glare of the media. One of the main hurdles to their widespread commercial uptake is the fact that the volumes involved are extremely small and are likely to remain so.

In the Philippines, however, locally-produced fabrics made from ‘tropical’ fibres derived from banana and pineapple plants are now seen as the answer to many of the local industry’s woes. Uniforms worn by 1.3 million Philippine officials and government employees will soon be required to use these materials, with calculations suggesting they will eventually replace a quarter of the textiles currently imported and translate into foreign exchange savings of about P8 billion.

Officials are so confident of the viability of the scheme that a similar plan for the uniforms of more than 30 million private sector workers is being discussed. And if successful, the ambitious programme to make use of what is essentially a by-product of the fruit crop, will be closely watched by industries around the world.

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