Bamboo Makes for Stylish Eco-Conscious Clothing

03|23|2011

Eco-fashion

As humanity seeks new and improved ways to produce clothing and fabrics that come from green and sustainable sources, it’s easy to look to mother nature for the perfect solution. Subsequently, designers and manufacturers are looking more toward plant-based fibers that can be grown naturally and be replenished as needed. In the green category, the newest fabrics to hit the fashion scene include textiles made from plants like corn, flax, and even bamboo.

Bamboo shirt

Since the early 2000’s, bamboo has grown and blossomed its way into many applications–it’s more than just the backdrop to tropical forests.  It has been used in many applications ranging from textiles to medicine, even jewelry. For green fashion, bamboo has quickly become the darling fabric for designers, and has even made its way into couture collections in Paris and around the world.

Bamboo Thrives Everywhere

Bamboo’s versatility comes from its ability to thrive in many environments. Its hardy shoots cement themselves into their surroundings and grow quickly. Its strength and fiber-like core gives bamboo a wealth of possible end products within the culinary, textile, and even medical field. Seems like the perfect eco-friendly source? Maybe, but it gets better. Bamboo also boasts anti-bacterial properties that repel pests naturally, making it the ideal plant to provide durable and hygienic fabrics and clothing. The fact that bamboo has anti-bacterial properties makes it a green choice for constructing clothing items such as socks, underwear, and workout gear. Because of its organic properties, it also prevents moisture from accumulating, thus stopping the growth of bacteria. The aroma of a worn pair of socks after a long day’s work is of no issue when the socks are made from bamboo.

Luxury for One Sixth the Price

Bamboo fabric can be processed into a myriad of textures, weights and styles. Its family of textiles can reach the market in its natural form or as a textured form similar in feel to cashmere, but for a sixth of the price. Bamboo is also completely versatile and dyes easily into any color like a charm.

Bamboo diaper

Currently, bamboo is a popular choice for clothing where a plush and luxurious feel is highly desired. Imagine coming home to a pair of cushy bamboo slippers or a bamboo robe with the same velvety texture of cashmere. Today, Bamboo’s use and application is nearly limitless, and current trends in bamboo include its use in undergarments and baby diapers. Bumkins, a brand of reusable diapers, carries an entire line of bamboo diapers for moms who choose to parent with a green thumb.

Bamboo: Not Without Controversy

The Eco-Boom has surely given bamboo a new lease on life and has made it a cash crop for rural farmers in tropical countries where bamboo is plentiful. Bamboo can certainly be considered a new wonder-crop, especially for green fashion, but even great ideas can’t be without controversy. Green advocacy groups have warned that bamboo production has led to a surge in the cutting down of rain-forests to make room to plant bamboo in their place. This has led to the destruction of precious rain-forests–home to many animals and ecosystems. Like with all things, bamboo has the making of greatness as a clean and renewable source of fabric, but proper management and education will be the key to bringing bamboo into the mainstream. Ultimately, bamboo’s future as a fashion force lies with designers and consumers, who, through education and design, can bring bamboo to the center of green fashion where it belongs.

Perspective by Alicia B. Alvarez

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