Pineapple express: Meet fashion brand Tripty

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Making clothes and accessories out of pineapple sounds like bad idea right? It could be sticky and it will surely attract ants. Not so in the case of Tripty, the fashion start-up helping to empower communities in Bangladesh by using by-products from the pineapple trade, writes Ryan Hewlett.

The project works to fuse traditional craftsmanship with modern design to create a company that has a positive environmental and social impact, while challenging the current fast fashion model.

Meet Brooke McEver and Luke Swanson, two changemakers and the founders of Tripty. The duo makes for a solid partnership, both have a proven track record in and passion for sustainable development and positive business practices.

DSC_9446-minMcEver first arrived in Bangladesh from Florida with the aim of making the garment industry less wasteful and, after years of work, has created a sustainability department in a major export factory. Luke’s background as an environmental scientist brought him to work with climate change in Bangladesh, a long way from his home town of Bellingham in the Northwest USA.

Tripty’s main product is a line of simple and stylish backpacks. Luke and Brooke decided on a backpack for practical reasons, the structured design means that they are easily replicable.  Now the line has expanded to include a variety of products including jackets and clutch bags.

 Pineapple

Back to pineapple – how exactly does it work? Well, pineapple leaves don’t compost easily, so farmers are left with a surplus waste issue at the end of each harvest. This means that farmers either have to hot compost them or pay to get them moved which many of them can’t afford to do. Tripty pay the farmers for their leaves which provides the farmers with a boost in income and often pays for their children’s clothing and schools.

IMG_2556-minThe leaves are then shredded, spun and dyed to create a sustainably produced fabric similar to canvas but with a positive environmental and social impact. Any waste from the spinning process is collected and made into paper, making this a zero waste production.

The supply chain

By carefully selecting suppliers for other materials, Tripty is able to minimise waste and provide safe work environments and steady incomes for its artisans.

Tripty sources the cotton it uses from an indigenous tribe called the Mro in the rural villages high in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Southeast Bangladesh. The Mro grow this cotton alongside their food and use it to make clothing for their village, selling the extra exclusively to the Tripty Project for added income.

IMG_1282-minThe cotton products are then constructed in a rehabilitation ‘factory’ which works with the women victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse. These victims are given healthcare, child care and a good wage while being able to work in a comfortable, positive, peaceful environment.

The Tripty team also has an ongoing collaboration with the Bihari community which specialises in ‘Karchupi’, a traditional form of embroidery often used to make wedding sarees. The Bihari are described as a “stateless people” due to the fact that they are not recognised as citizens of Bangladesh or their home countries. Stranded in a country that is not theirs they struggle to make a home for themselves.

IMG_0659-minIn Meherpur, Tripty works with a project that focuses on rehabilitating women from sex trafficking. This is a collaboration with local artisans who specialise in ‘Kantha’ stitch.  ‘Kantha’ means story in Bangla and the artisans use their needle and thread to sew together old saree material using complicated stitching to continue the tradition handed down through generations.

By providing part-time work through ‘Kantha’ stitch these women can make a small income which gives them stability in their lives and a voice in their community.

With a commitment to clean materials and fair production, the Tripty Project shows the world that a truly positive and ethical supply chain is within reach.

To find out more about Tripty take a look at there website: http://www.tripty.org

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