A Thai designer is making luxury handbags from banana leaves – helping provide income to farmers during the pandemic. Thanakorn Sodsai, 33, uses materials extracted from banana leaf fibres to weaved into accessories he designs in Ratchaburi province, western Thailand. His purse and bags designer line Tanee employs farmers to harvest the leaves. He is also teaching them how to process the raw materials until they become luxury products. The finished products such as handbags, hats, boxes, notebook covers, and other accessories last up to ten years as certified by the Community Development Department in the province. Thanakorn said he combines the farmer’s knowledge of the leaves with nanotechnology. He said: ‘We help the farmers and then they help us too with their knowledge of planting. The process starts by extracting the fibres from the leaves and drying them out in the sun to remove moisture that causes molds. ‘They are then ironed with mulberry papers before being shaped into designed products. Each piece of work is given precise attention and inspiration that are the community’s identity.’ The young designer added that the revenue from the bags is returned to the community to help their workers through the pandemic as most of them have lost their jobs. He said: ‘The pandemic affected us but we thought of a way to elevate our products. We shifted into luxury items and they have been well-received as they are environmental-friendly too.’ A regular-sized handbag costs around 1,000 baht each and they are available on Tanee’s online stores and outlets around Thailand.