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Sustainable plant based vegan-friendly yarns for knitting, crochet, weaving and more.

Growing up, we all learned about natural textiles and those that are synthetic. We learned that those that are naturally derived are better for the environment as they do not leave any trace behind and decompose with ease, unlike synthetic fibres. But what about wool?

Wool comes from animals, most of which are domesticated and therefore have a significant impact on the environment they inhabit. Source

Wool is a natural animal fibre, primarily the fleece from sheep. Although wool is a natural fibre, experts and animal rights activists have raised several concerns across the globe. Animal farming on a big scale is also harming the ecosystem. The overpopulation of grazing animals had caused forest canopies to deplete, and it is a huge problem in India.

In a time in which small environmental footprints and ethical work conditions are being demanded from manufacturers, designers and material clients believe we should be aware of the impact when it comes to material resources. So, this really makes one think if there is a way to obtain natural wool without infringing on the rights of an animal. 

 As industrial production scales up to meet growing global demand, many sheep are being kept in increasingly cramped conditions on overgrazed land. Source

This is where people like Gowri Shankar make a difference. Shankar is an entrepreneur based in Tamil Nadu (near Auroville) who founded Faborg.  The company manufactures fabric from the wild plants Calotropis Gigantea and Calotropis Procera. Commonly known as milkweed, this plant grows abundantly all over India.

A hardy plant with large, waxy leaves and purple and white flowers. It flourishes in dry and harsh conditions, and has highly toxic sap.  Calotropis does not need water, attention,  pesticides or replanting. It is a pioneer plant that revives biodiversity and ecosystem and enables forest canopy to grow back. It grows back in 6 months after harvesting and yields 2 times per year. 

Shankar and Elen are focused on constant research and innovation at FABORG keeping in mind our environment,which is their top priority.

After years of research and experiments, Faborg has launched an alternative for wool fabrics, called ‘WEGANOOL’. The fibres are obtained from two different parts of the pant. The pod fibres are extremely soft and light in weight. Since these fibres are hollow, they behave like tiny air balloons and are able to carry the heavy seeds far away from the plant. Because of their softness and natural shine, fabrics made from these fibres have a very luxurious feel and are often compared with cashmere.

Carefully extracted 30% Calotropis fibres are mixed with 70% of certified* organic rain-fed cotton and spinned into delicate WEGANOOLyarn by Faborg. The price of the products vary depending on the fabric you choose, ranging from Rs 1,600/M for the woven fabric to Rs 3,500/M for the fleece. The fabric obtained does not shrink with washing and it is easier to maintain. It has antimicrobial properties and does not create an itchy feeling. Moreover, it’s cruelty-free.

*certification for the cotton can be obtained if  the order quantity is reasonably big.

 In Hindu culture, Calotropis (also known as Bowstring Hemp) flowers are offered to Shiva and Ganesha. In Ayurveda it has been used for its medicinal properties.

The calotropis plant is rich in micro and macronutrients and the alkaloids present in the extract helps in plant cell division. It also improves the quality of the soil and naturally keeps pests away without even killing them. WEGANOOL is produced with zero waste.  

Once the necessary fibres are extracted, the concentrated and fermented leftovers from the plant are mixed with different Ayurvedic herbs and made into something called Arka.  Arka is a highly efficient bio nutrient and insect repellent. Arka is sold at highly subsidised prices to the farmers (Rs. 60/litre) which is around 8 to 9 times lesser than the price of the commonly used fertiliser. Arka is also being used as a mosquito repellant by about 30 cafes, hotels and restaurants. Every process involved in the extraction of this fibre is sustainable including dyeing, where plant-based natural colours are used. 

WEGANOOLis the first vegan wool made using Calotropis fibre. The name is a combination of ‘vegan’(free of animal products) and  ‘nool’ which means yarn in Tamil.

There are many other benefits to this product:

  • Production of 1 kg of WEGANOOL yarn saves 9000 L of clean drinking water compared to 100% cotton yarn
  • Cultivating the CALOTROPIS plant can convert dry, unusable terrain into profitable land for farmers​.
  • The fabrics out of WEGANOOL cellulose fibres do not shrink with every wash and are generally easier to maintain than protein-based wool fabrics
  • WEGANOOL fabrics are sustainable at every stage of their life cycle – from production and processing to ultimate disposal
  • Scientific research confirmed that these fabrics have antimicrobial properties against most common skin diseases caused by staphylococcus bacteria.

WEGANOOL™ is a FABORG’s testimony of how fabric manufacturing can bring a positive impact to the world.

Production of this vegan fabric is done by hand, and  it empowers women in rural communities to try to engage in traditional agriculture. Faborg manufactures about 150 kgs of yarn per month. It is available commercially in Europe and is being used by brands like German fashion label Infantium Victoria. Faborg also has inquiries from designer labels like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen. Most of these brands have liked the fabric’s cashmere-like texture which is perfect for making woollens.

Growing awareness and activism around the detrimental impact of the wool industry has contributed to a rise in the demand for plant based alternatives. Until now the economy was thriving by exploiting nature, we now have an opportunity to change that and create income streams that revive ecosystems.

FABORG is on a mission to revive the superpowers of the calotropis plant and create products and services that bring positive impact to the world.


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