OUR TEXTILE DEVELOPER AT BANANATEX®
At QWSTION we have been making bags and everyday goods from plants instead of plastic since 2008 – ones that unite responsibility with functionality and timeless aesthetics.
Centering our creative process around material research has allowed us to develop Bananatex® – a Cradle to Cradle Certified® and 100% biodegradable textile crafted from regeneratively grown plants.
Here we interview Mattia Rottoli, Textile Developer at Bananatex®, to hear about his latest work and to get some new insights on this unique fabric.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO QWSTION AND BANANATEX®?
Almost by chance, I started studying fashion and textile technology at a technical institute and obtained a diploma as a textile technician. I then began working as a clothing fabrics designer and developer (mainly shirting). It is the type of design that combines some notions of fashion and trends with purely technical skills. From then on and for about 18 years, moving from Italy to Switzerland, I specialised to the point of managing the Development office, but the kind of product itself was something that no longer appealed to me.
And here comes the second part of the question: the pandemic crisis hit the industry hard and the difficulties and the uncertainty of the moment prompted me to look around and coincidentally Bananatex® was looking for a fabric developer. I had known the product since it was awarded the Swiss design prize and I always thought it is a true innovation in a sector where there are many, too many words and very little actions in terms of circularity and respect for the environment. And in just a few months I discovered that there is even more going on here than is being said.
WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES BANANATEX® OFFER COMPARED TO OTHER MATERIALS?
The most immediate and impactful answer would be the recent and very successful biodegradability analysis we have subjected our fabrics to. However, I believe that the main innovation of Bananatex® is the creation of natural fabrics with some of the technical features of several articles produced using synthetic fibres, without interfering with the natural growth cycle of Abacà's plants and with the highest certified standards in terms of respect for the environment throughout the whole production process. The advantage is therefore a strong, durable and flexible product with a natural and unique hand-feel that makes it a rarity in the technical clothing fabric market.
WHAT ARE THE LATEST BANANATEX® MATERIAL DEVELOPMENTS?
We recently presented our new Lightweight fabrics. A series of fabrics that are much lighter than those we offered until now, with different structures and looks, with which we aim to supply a broader market, especially in the field of clothing. The basic idea is to expand our range, exploiting the properties of Abacà fibres for different sectors, from clothing to accessories, from furniture to automobiles.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST REWARDS AND CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
I would start with challenges and a premise. The goal of producing fabrics with a very low environmental impact also means choosing dyes and treatments that contain as few harmful chemicals as possible. This implies that some performance is inferior to 'competing' fabrics and that compromises have to be accepted for a truly sustainable textile. I would therefore say that the main challenge in my work is to reduce these compromises as much as possible, researching, updating and always observing what the technology and other innovators offer.
As for the rewards, after several years I still feel a thrill when I can touch any fabric created from one’s own ideas, even if the result is not as expected or completely satisfying. Of course, then seeing the final product, be it a shirt, a backpack, a pair of trousers, etc., made from one’s own fabric always gives a special feeling.
Can you tell us what you’re currently working on (that you can disclose)?
There are currently two major developments open, which will take bit of time: explore new dyeing technologies and develop new knitwear products through collaborations with other pioneering companies. In my daily work, I look for ways to further ways to improve our fabrics, with new patterns, new yarns or alternative treatments.