April 22, 2024

As the country observes the Philippine Tropical Fabrics (PTF) Month, the head of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) expressed wishes local fabrics will attract a wider audience.

PTRI Director Julius Leaño said the PTF Month mandates government employees to wear locally made and locally sourced materials such as natural fibers, in their uniforms.

“We hope that all government agencies (personnel) will be able to wear something locally made,” he said, adding that the House of Representatives started using tropical fabric in their uniform last year.

He added the PTRI has tapped some designers such as Francis Libiran and Avel Bacudio when they introduced bamboo textile to the public last year.

“They (designers) have been using it (bamboo yarn) even before. However, previously, bamboo textiles are only appealing to older people. We want to make it mainstream, especially for the younger generation,” Leaño said.

Bamboo, he said, is a good source of raw material since it grows in many areas and has 50 percent fiber recovery.

Local materials can also be developed through innovation. Leaño cited pineapple leaves and banana trunks as other sources of fiber.

Water hyacinth, which clogs the waterways, can also be a source of fiber.

“These are locally grown, sometimes even valorized. When we say valorized, it means useless materials could be brought back to the supply chain,” he said.

Leaño said the banana fruit, for instance, could be sold for P35 per kilo, but a kilo of fiber sells for about P400 so farmers could also earn extra.

The role of science, he said, is to help make the fibers and textiles more affordable and more accessible.

Aside from wearables, the PTRI is also exploring on the use of local materials for home textiles that are thicker and water-repellent. – PNA