Thursday, June 20, 2024

Alex Crane, Bananatex Debut the World’s First Swim Trunks Made From Banana Plants

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New York-based label Alex Crane has partnered with Bananatex on the first banana plant fiber swim trunks.

It may seem counterintuitive that the swimwear is ripe with sustainable offerings, given that most swimsuits are made from hardy materials that hold up in chlorine and salt water. But the swimwear category has been at the forefront of the shift to sustainable fashion in recent years. Companies from Nike to Speedo have embraced recycled nylon, typically made from upcycled fishing nets or single-use plastic. Some labels have taken to using surplus materials like offcuts, and deadstock to fashion their swimsuits. And while this helps remove plastic from the environment and reduce textile waste, it’s not a perfect solution. Those nylon- and elastane-based materials still shed microplastics — one of the biggest threats to marine life, and, increasingly, human health. Recent studies found high concentrations of microplastics in fetal tissue, testicles, and human blood.

But finding materials that perform like their plastic counterparts has no small task. Enter: Bananatex, the material developed by Swiss backpack label Qwstion using fibers from the Abacá banana plant, native to the Philippines. Bananatex has garnered significant attention within the sustainable fashion community for its durability and sustainability. (The fiber has been used for thousands of years in ropes and nets.) Unlike monoculture banana plantations, the Abacá plant is cultivated in mixed forestry environments, promoting biodiversity and preventing soil erosion. It requires no pesticides or fertilizers, further minimizing its environmental footprint. Bananatex has a natural, organic look and feel; it is also water-resistant and biodegradable.

Alex Crane board shorts made from Bananatex fiber.
Bananatex fiber board shorts | Photo courtesy Alex Crane

The Alex Crane Rama Board Shorts mark the Bananatex fiber’s swim trunks debut. Retailing for $125, it comes in three colorways. The shorts join the forward-thinking fashion label renowned for its commitment to sustainability and the use of natural materials. Founded by Alex Crane in 2016, the brand has carved a niche in the fashion industry by offering stylish, comfortable, and eco-friendly clothing. The company’s philosophy centers on simplicity, durability, and a deep respect for nature, which is reflected in its choice of materials and production processes.

Alex Crane places a strong emphasis on using natural materials, primarily linen and hemp as part of its breezy ethos. But it also uses cactus leather, natural rubber, and coconut, among other natural materials. The label eschews plastic for several reasons, including a dependency on on fossil fuels, its inability to biodegrade, and its toxicity, particularly in the form of microplastics.

“Natural materials make better clothes,” says Crane. “Unlike plastic, natural materials have evolved over thousands (or millions) of years and are very dynamic. Fibers made from plants and wool are more breathable, more antimicrobial, and more enduring.”

Shop the trunks here.

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