Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ganni’s New Luxury Fiber Turns Banana Waste Into a Circular Tracksuit

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Ganni’s Fabrics of the Future initiative welcomes its newest textile, Pyratex—a breakthrough fabric made from banana farming agri-waste.

It was only last month that Ganni debuted its first t-shirt made from upcycled cotton waste on its road toward circularity. The Danish luxury label is following that Copenhagen Fashion Week launch with a new material and a tracksuit made from banana agri-waste.

“By avoiding the carbon release that comes from burning agri-waste you alleviate a problem while simultaneously creating a responsible alternative to synthetic products—it’s that kind of circular mindset we need more of. We are super proud to be working with industry pioneers Pyratex who are paving the way for a more responsible fashion industry,” Nicolaj Reffstrup, Ganni’s founder said in a statement.

Ganni banana fiber tracksuit
Courtesy Ganni

Pyratex is a Spain-based textiles innovation company working to transform the materials industry with upcycled and bio-based fabrics. It has worked with a number of global brands including Fiorucci, Philip Lim, Asics, Pangaia, and Pepe, among others.

Banana waste

“When you collect banana fruit, the tree dies and needs to be heavily pruned for regrowth, leaving an important amount of waste behind,” Pyratex CEO Regina Polanco told Vogue Business of the material called element 2. Banana trees are an ineffecient crop; they produce more waste than they do fruit. Nearly 60 percent of banana biomass is left after harvest. That amounts to about 115 million metric tons of banana waste loss every year.

The banana industry is also facing an uncertain future as fungi and other crop diseases threaten the world’s biggest banana-producing regions.

A truck hauls bananas
A truck hauls bananas, courtesy Francesco Ungaro | Unsplash

Climate change is also expected to take an increasing toll on the banana industry. Warming temperatures have boosted banana production in recent years, but a 2019 study found ten of the top banana-producing countries, including the world’s largest producer, India and the fourth largest producer, Brazil, could see significant declines in crop yields by mid-century.

Sustainable materials

Pyratex is upcycling medicinal plant waste, bamboo, fungi, algae, corn, and other natural materials. “We strongly believe the key to a more responsible fashion industry is diversifying the fibres we wear,” says Polanco. The Pyratex banana fiber is blended with organic cotton for Ganni’s new tracksuit. Scotch & Soda launched the banana fiber material in its collection a few weeks ago.

Ganni set an ambitious target earlier this year to bring five new sustainable materials to market every year. It’s already worked with mycelium leather producer Bolt Threads and its Mylo un-leather. Reffstrup announced that the brand would be removing leather over the next year—a material he likened to cigarettes.

In total, Ganni is working with more than two dozen novel fabrics to reduce its carbon footprint; its goal is 50 percent drop in emissions by 2027.

Ganni banana tracksuit
Courtesy Ganni

For Ganni, that means constant testing and assessing. Sustainable materials are rapidly becoming more accessible and affordable as companies scale production.

“Internally, we have this saying: ‘test small, fail fast’. That’s always been core to how we work at Ganni,” Reffstrup told Vogue Business.

“We need to pick winners, because probably not all of them will go all the way,” he says.

When it comes to Pyratex’s banana waste fiber, part of the reason is cost. It is currently eight times the price of organic cotton.

“Maybe a brand like ours can accommodate it, but we need the H&Ms of the world to adopt fabrics like these to have the proper impact at scale,” Reffstrup said. “And they can only do it if it’s somewhat competitive from a price point of view.”

The new tracksuit pant, hoodie, and crop top are made with 35 percent Pyratex banana waste element 2 and 65 percent organic cotton. They will launch on Wednesday at ganni.com and select stores.

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