What are the most sustainable fabrics for the fashion industry?

LET’S TALK ABOUT FABRICS USED WITHIN FASHION DESIGN...

Blue denim jeans & floaty summer dresses may be staple pieces in most women's wardrobe, but do we really know how much our purchase habits are affecting the environment? 

NATURAL VS SYNTHETIC FABRICS

The two main types of fibres used in clothing production are natural & synthetic.

Natural fabrics are fabrics that are naturally-derived; made of animal or plant-based fibres. The most common natural fabrics are: cotton, wool, silk, hemp and linen. These fibres will break down easily & are therefore compostable.

Synthetic fabrics are man-made and produced synthetically – the resulting form does not exist naturally anywhere on the planet. This kind of fabric is manufactured chemically from gas, petroleum, alcohol, water and air.

Synthetic fabrics are very hardwearing and crease-resistant but, as they are not very absorbent, they can be unpleasant (very sweaty) to wear. The most common synthetic fabrics are -  polyester, nylon, spandex and acrylic.

Natural fibres are widely regarded as more sustainable than synthetic fabrics given its ability to degrade easily. However not all natural fabrics are as good as the next.

THE MOST SUSTAINABLE FABRICS & WHY... 

LINEN

Linen is biodegradable & one of the most sustainable fabrics, this is why I have  made 85% of all häll störe designs from 100% high quality linen fabric.

Linen fabric is comfortable, self cooling & super versatile - what's not to love?!

Linen now represents less than 1% of global fibre production according to the CFDA & is so rare and costly to make compared to other textiles that it is considered a close-to luxury fabric.

Linen is a natural fibre made from the flax plant. Along with hemp, it’s classified as a bast fiber, meaning it’s made from the stem of a plant. Linen is woven from the flax plant, which, also like hemp, can be grown in any temperate climate around the world. It doesn’t require any pesticides or any additional water other than rain water and every part of the plant is used. Linen is also organic, biodegradable, recyclable.

 

Linen fabric can absorb as much as 20% of its weight in moisture before feeling wet, this makes it the perfect fabric to wear through the warmer seasons & is great in a humid environment. Even better it's temperature regulating properties keep you cool in Summer and warm in Winter - it is the perfect fabric to wear year round.

Linen is a natural fibre (like cotton or bamboo) which has been used for centuries because of its amazing properties. The more it’s used and washed the softer it gets and it's extremely durable – 30% stronger than cotton, meaning it can last decades when cared for correctly. Linen fabric is also fully biodegradable which makes it a fantastic option for those who shop with an environmentally conscious mind.

 

TENCEL

TENCEL® is a brand name for a fiber which is also called lyocell, manufactured by the Lenzing AG company. TENCEL® is a natural fiber that has a flattering drape and is soft, luxurious, breathable, naturally wrinkle-resistant, and environmentally sustainable. 

Tencel is a cellulose fibre, which is made by dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning. Before it is dried, wood chips are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mixture. The mixture is then pushed through small holes to form threads, which is then chemically treated and the lengths of fibre are spun into yarn and woven into cloth. 


 

 As is the case with most textiles, Tencel production has both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Like cotton and bamboo, Tencel is made from plant materials. However manufacturing Tencel requires less energy and water than cotton. As a naturally derived fibre, Tencel is also biodegradable.

The main concern with Tencel fabric is the use of energy during the production process. This is something that the manufacturer - Lenzing AG have acknowledged and are working to address by increasing their use of renewable energy sources.

ECONYL

The ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, uses synthetic waste such as industrial plastic, waste fabric and fishing nets from oceans, recycles and regenerates them into a new nylon yarn that is exactly the same quality as virgin nylon.

Econyl is commonly used in swimwear, stockings, active wear, yoga pants & sportswear.

ECONYL is a way to recycle and replace virgin nylon in our everyday products and clothes. 

Econyl is a trademark of the Italian plastics company Aquafil. This company has also produced a variety of other textiles and industrial plastics, but it is most well-known for developing Econyl fabric. Inspired by the environmental crisis caused by synthetic fibers, the creators of Econyl sought to devise an alternative to nylon that doesn’t harm ecosystems.

Nets are one of the most common industrial applications of nylon, and this fiber is also used in a variety of other maritime applications. Additionally, much of the nylon waste that consumers discard ends up in the ocean. This non-biodegradable nylon waste harms sea turtles, dolphins, and other aquatic creatures, and it gradually builds up until it creates islands of plastic that grow year by year.

HEMP

Hemp fiber is one of the strongest and most durable of all natural textile fibers. Hemp fabric is environmentally friendly, holds it shape, blends well with other fabrics, is highly durable & is a breathable fabric.

Hemp fabric is a type of textile that is made using fibers from the stalks of the Cannabis sativa plant.  

While hemp is harvested and processed similarly to other fabrics, its main advantage is through the hemp plant itself.

Hemp uses about 5% the amount of water it takes to grow cotton and can often be rain-fed. Hemp can grow in almost all soil conditions, and unlike cotton (which depletes the soil of nutrients) hemp’s deep-reaching roots preserve the topsoil and subsoil. 

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