Already a buzzword in the food business, the term organic is now being attached to new style yarns and fabrics.

And not only are spinners and weavers eager to assure customers that the components of their latest collections are "100 per cent natural" in origin; the current trend is to dramatically extend the range of raw materials on which the textile trade can base new products

The Japanese appear to leading the back-to-nature revolution. At the recent Expofil trade fair in Paris, Kondo Co Ltd weighed in with a silk-like yarn based on a soy bean extract, while Takizen Co Ltd proffered a fibre which is a by-product of Philippine banana leaves.

Not to be outdone the Italian house of Marioboselli is also experimenting with soy bean fibre. On several stands at the Paris show, the branded Seacell fibre - a derivative of marine algae - made a reappearance, this time in a fashion context.

By Sonia Roberts.