A Guide to Garment Fabrics
One of the hottest fashion buzzwords right now is "sustainable" or "eco-friendly". However, do you know what constitutes a "sustainable" fabric versus one that is bad for the environment?
It isn't always a clear answer, but in this post, we've created a simple guide that covers various fabrics used in clothing, and weigh in on the pros and cons of each.
Cotton - fibre from cotton plants
|Natural fibre||Uses a lot of water to grow|
|Breathable||If it's not organic, pesticide is used with chemicals that can be harmful to the Earth and our body|
|Machine-washable||Can shrink in the wash|
Silk - spun from silkworm cocoons
|Breathable||Have to be dry-cleaned|
|Biodegradable||Silk-worms are killed, unless it's vegan, which means that the producer waits for the silk-worms to leave their cocoons naturally|
|Uses less water than cotton|
Bamboo - made from Bamboo plant fibre
|Natural fibre||Less durable than cotton fibres|
|Bio-degradable||More expensive than cotton|
|Strong and durable|
|Bamboo is the fastest growing plant and requires little effort in cultivation|
Doesn't require pesticides or fertilisers
Requires less water than cotton
Doesn't pill as much as cotton
Rayon/Viscose - made from wood pulp
|Natural||Chemicals are used to process it and it has to be disposed of properly or it will harm the environment|
|Biodegradable||Can shrink in the wash|
|Uses less water than cotton||Deforestation could be done unsustainably|
|Companies such as APR and Lenzing have traceable viscose which ensures that certain sustainable requirements are met, are committed to clean manufacturing and sustainable deforestation methods|
Cupro - made from waste linters when processing cotton
|Natural||Chemicals used during production|
|Biodegradable||Can be pricey|
|Machine-washable||Fabric strength is weak (unless mixed with PE)|
Linen - made from flax plant fibre
|Natural fibre||Uses a lot of water|
|Biodegradable||Wrinkles easily when worn|
|No pesticides needed||Expensive as it is hard to weave|
Hemp - made from Cannibalis plant fibres
|Natural Fibre||Hemp plants are illegal in many countries and has a stigma to it|
|Biodegradable||Can be expensive|
|Machine washable||Pure hemp has a scratchy feel unless mixed with other fibres|
|Requires less water than cotton||Dyed colours are usually muted|
|No chemical processing needed||Fibres can shred when machine washed|
|No pesticides needed|
Polyester - man-made out of long-chain polymers
|Durable and last longer||Produced from chemicals that are harmful to the environment|
|Machine-washable||Sourced from non-renewable resources|
|Requires less water||Non bio-degradable|
|Can be recycled|
Fabric is just one of the many facets of sustainable fashion.
Before you make your next purchase, you can ask yourself the simple questions such as:
- How long and often can I wear this piece of garment?
- Can I see myself wearing this style in 3 years time?
- Is the garment mass produced which may lead to deadstock?
- How can I recycle or upcycle this piece of garment in future?
We hope this guide helps you along with that.
Let's all do our part to slow down fashion consciously.
Photos of Viscose and Cupro courtesy of The Laundress
Photos of Polyester sourced from Wikipedia