Indian Start-up Creates ‘Weganool’

An Indian startup called Faborg has created a vegan alternative to wool! Derived from a flowering milkweed type plant called Calotropis, Faborg calls it Weganool. This wild plant is native to Asia and Northern Africa and grows on deserted lands requiring no water or pesticide treatment. Gowri Shankar, an India-based fashion entrepreneur and Faborg founder said that he was struck by the possibility of converting the Calotropis plant-fiber into textile after casually observing 10 to 15 sunbirds surrounding the plant bush and making a nest using its fiber. “It really got me thinking if this … natural fiber could be transformed into a textile,” he told media outlet The Better India.

Working on the idea, he said he was finally able to achieve the vegan cashmere fabric perfect for woolens by blending 30% of Calotropis and 70% organic cotton. According to Shankar, the plant fibers softness and natural shine makes the fabric smooth, velvety and luxurious. It’s lightweight and offers temperature regulating properties. The plant fiber is foraged from the wild and processed mostly by hand, is cost-effective, sustainable and is a means of livelihood for the local rural communities.

Extracting the fiber from the plant leaves a residue, Shankar added that the residual extract is converted into a natural fertilizer and pest repellent drawing on the plant’s antifungal and antibacterial properties. Faborg sells this bio-fertiliser and pesticide called Arka to farmers helping them practice chemical-free agriculture.

The fabric’s cashmere like texture has attracted a lot of attention. Several brands have also started sourcing this fabric including Germany based organic and vegan children’s clothing brand Infantium Victoria.

In his interview, Shankar said he was open to collaborations with like-minded individuals and businesses in the industry as he was looking to scale operations.

“I want to have a processing unit for Faborg in every 100 km of India wherever the plant is growing. I hope to create a working model for farmers so that they can become self-sufficient. To this network, I want the farmers to realize the real potential of this shrub and how it can improve their incomes,” he said in his interview with Better India.

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