Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Wearing pineapple on your feet.


Creating a variation of the pineapple fabric suitable for regular clothing.

When considering the use of pineapple fibers in textile, it is often associated with rigid and traditional Filipino formal clothing. This fabric, known as piña, is known for its delicate and translucent appearance, and is not commonly worn. However, what if piña could be worn as everyday attire?

Creative Definitions, the company that owns Lakat and Aire brands, has a slightly different approach.

During this month’s Likhang Habi Fair at Glorietta, Creative Definitions co-founder Michael Claparols stated that they utilize fibers from the sweet Hawaiian variety of pineapple leaves, rather than the Red Spanish variety typically used for delicate fabrics. These fibers are then combined with cotton to create a sustainable and Filipino alternative to traditional piña fabric. The resulting yarns are used to make sneakers (for Lakat, meaning “walk” in the Hiligaynon dialect spoken in Negros, Mr. Claparols’ hometown), as well as shirts and pants (for Aire).

“I am focused on aiding the Negros Island region,” he stated. The fabric produced is solid, with a linen-like texture, and is highly absorbent to dye. Mr. Claparols also mentions that the fabric allows for good air circulation.

Mr. Claparols and his wife, Banj, show their support for local farmers by purchasing pineapple leaves from them. They also support other local communities through various steps involved in producing textiles such as spinning, weaving, and sewing. For instance, Lakat’s sneakers are put together in Rizal province, using rubber soles from Mindanao. According to him, the only foreign components in the sneakers are the aglets and eyelets for the shoelaces, which are from Taiwan. This is because the ones available in the market did not meet their standards.

When Creative Definitions was established in 2008, they focused on trading crafts made in Negros. However, in 2017, the Calaparols couple traveled to Hong Kong and were introduced to sustainable materials. This sparked their interest and led them to collaborate with a weaving community in Negros. They also engaged in talks with the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Textile Research Institute (DoST-PTRI) to develop their own sustainable textile. Through this partnership, they gained knowledge about the entire process and are now capable of producing their own fabric and clothing upon request.

Mr. Claparols stated that the PTRI possessed the capability to handle pineapple fiber, but lacked the means to make it commercially available. Presently, the stripped leaves are processed into fiber using a machine powered by solar energy, and then sent to PTRI to be mixed with cotton and transformed into yarn. Mr. Claparols envisions the construction of a similar facility in the Negros region in the future, in order to minimize their carbon footprint. He expressed that one of the Philippines’ greatest assets is its abundance of natural fibers, and the challenge lies in finding ways to turn them into wearable products.

The shoe brand combines coolness and awareness – although Mr. Claparols is happy that there is an increase in sustainable living, he acknowledges that the concepts can be blurry in day-to-day life. Through creating sustainable clothing and shoes, he aims to bridge this gap. “The awareness on that aspect can also be applied in our daily routines. That’s what I’m striving towards,” he stated.

We acknowledge that the shoes are priced at P3,900 (and the shirts may be priced higher). Mr. Claparols attributes this to economies of scale: with a smaller production scale, he must charge slightly more to ensure smooth operations. He looks forward to advancements in the industry that will allow entrepreneurs like himself to increase production and lower prices: “If the prices are not affordable and people do not purchase, sustainability cannot be achieved.” – Joseph L. Garcia