WIth a background in fabric making and embroidery, Shankar Dhakshinamoorthy founded Faborg as a freelance company in 2015. After receiving an inquiry about hemp, he began considering creating sustainable fabrics from other plants, including the Calotropis plant (likely Calotropis gigantea Giant Milkweed) that grows as a weed in dry areas of India. Only five months after harvesting some sample fibers, he made the first fabric using a blend of Calotropis and cotton called “vegan wool” for its wool-like properties.
The Calotropis plant produces two types of hollow cellulose fibers. The pod fibers are lightweight, soft, and have a natural shine. Fabrics made from pod fibers compare with the feel of cashmere. The stem fibers transport the acidic sap of this plant to the pods and leaves. Because of this function, they are very strong and can be used to make durable fabric for upholstery. Faborg processes both types of fiber by hand to ensure quality and durability. Faborg uses natural plant-based dyes from the Indian company Natural Dye House (www.naturaldyehouse.com) for its Calotropis/cotton-blend “vegan wool.”
Faborg uses a patented mechanical process to create its vegan wool, using a standard blend of 30% Calotropis fibers with 70% organic cotton.
Faborg’s vegan wool compares favorably to animal- and petroleum-based wool across a number of categories. As a plant-based fabric with plant-based dyes, it is completely biodegradable. The Calotropis plant grows abundantly in dry areas without additional water and without herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Cultivation of this plant can convert land unsuitable for other crops into profitable farmland and help rural economies in arid regions. After fiber extraction, all remaining biomass is used as fertilizer and insecticide. No chemicals or animals are used in the creation of Faborg’s vegan wool.
According to company materials, Faborg’s vegan wool is lighter than animal wool, but just as warm. Unlike animal wool, this fabric does not cause skin irritations or allergic reactions.
Because Calotropis fibers are processed by hand, Faborg makes only limited quantities of their vegan wool each season. The company is currently scaling up by cultivating Calotropis in other areas.
Images from Faborg.