Fashion from plant-based leather

Yanett Talavera Roca, a fashion student from Lima, discusses her interest in rubber.

Yanett Talavera Roca

What brings a fashion student from Lima to the middle of the Amazon jungle?
I’m currently writing my Masters’ thesis on the use of plant-based leather in the fashion industry. I want to spend a month with rubber farmers, getting to know the production process for latex and plant-based leather. For part of my thesis, I’ll be presenting a collection that makes use of this material.

What attracts you to the use of plant-based leather?
Hundreds of years ago the indigenous peoples of Peru were already using latex to make clothing and everyday objects. This knowledge was lost and is only now being rediscovered. As a material, it is both environmentally friendly and sustainable. No animals are killed, no trees are cut down. In addition, it is produced here in Peru – so by using it we can boost the local economy.

Do you intend to continue your collaboration with the rubber farmers of El Sira once you have finished your studies?
We’ve discussed that possibility. I can well imagine perhaps designing items of clothing for the farmers’ cooperative: trousers, caps, jackets. But we will also have to think about ways of speeding up the production process, perhaps by outsourcing it to a factory or buying in the right machinery. The farmers currently do everything by hand, so production is quite a lengthy process. 

Interview: Thomas Wagner

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