The new eco-sustainable fabrics
There is a lot of talk about ” slow fashion ” and ” sustainable clothing “. Many brands claim to use “natural fabrics” or offer “ecological garments”. Understanding what lies behind a t-shirt or trousers seems increasingly complicated and reading the thousands of words on the label is a challenge.
For the most attentive and aware consumers, buying a quality garment is not enough. What is really important is to understand what materials it is made of, and whether they are truly ecological and sustainable.
Fortunately, it is not difficult to discover the truth behind the label, and to understand if a fabric is truly eco-sustainable.
Artificial and synthetic fabrics, what’s the difference?
First, an important distinction must be made, that between artificial fabrics and synthetic fabrics . No, they are not the same!
The synthetic fabric is a fabric that derives from polymers, worked with chemical processes and which give life to resistant but not eco-sustainable products . The raw material of these fabrics is usually a type of petroleum waste, much cheaper than natural fibers.
Most of the ” fast fashion ” brands, like the most famous brands that can be found in large shopping centers, use synthetic fabrics. They are cheap and allow you to create large quantities of clothing in a short time.
Unfortunately, synthetic fabrics are the antithesis of ecological and responsible purchasing . Their production process is highly polluting, as is their disposal.
The artificial tissue may seem a synonym for synthetic, but it does not.
The material from which it derives is totally natural , and is worked with an artificial method to create fibers suitable for making clothes.
Many artificial fabrics derive from the cellulose of trees , the same material that is used to make paper. The manufacturing process allows to create splendid garments in bamboo fiber, beech cellulose or eucalyptus cellulose.
These fabrics have a more ecological production cycle . Not all of them currently have the same low impact as natural fibers (such as linen, cotton and wool), but technology is making great strides to allow cleaner and more eco-sustainable production, which reuses, for example, the waste from other industrial processes. (we therefore speak of circular economy) and is able to work by consuming ever smaller quantities of water.
Know your fabric: read the label
Now that you know what the difference between synthetic and artificial fabrics is, you may be wondering: how can I understand which fabric makes up my garment?
The solution is simpler than it seems. Just read the label carefully.
On the label, in fact, the names of the materials and their percentages are indicated: it is in fact his business card. To understand what you are about to buy, just know the most popular types of fabric.
1. Natural fabrics : cotton, linen, silk, wool (merino, alpaca, etc.)
2. Artificial fabrics : viscose, modal, EcoVero, lyocell
3. Synthetic fabrics : polyester, nylon, elastane, acrylic
4. Why man-made fibers are so innovative
Certainly choosing natural fibers such as cotton is the most ecological choice, but this does not mean that there are no valid alternatives. The ecological clothing fabrics , such as artificial tissues, are an increasingly established itself in the fashion world.
Manufacturing companies study methods and techniques every year to make the production of clothes more ecological. Using this type of fibers means promoting a more ethical use of the fabric, whatever garment or accessory you are producing, for trendy, refined, elegant or simply casual clothing.
One or the advantages of man-made fibers is their versatility . Some natural fibers such as linen do not lend themselves to all types of clothing, and are generally more delicate. Artificial fibers such as viscose are extremely durable, can be washed at home using either the washing machine or the dryer, and require no special care. In some cases, such as bamboo viscose , if stored well they do not even need to be ironed.
The most advanced artificial textile fibers
Lyocell, modal, rayon, lanital… every self-respecting fabric company has created a version of artificial fiber that can adapt to the needs of the most demanding customers. Here are the most used eco-sustainable artificial fabrics and their differences.
The viscose is the artificial fabric most commonly used in clothing, and there are of many types. Also called rayon , it can have two different types of origin: cellulosic or protein . The cellulosic viscose derives from the cellulose of trees, while the protein one can even derive from waste materials. This makes it a much more ecological fabric, because it allows not to throw away those production waste that otherwise would remain unused. Viscose is very soft and silky , so much so that when it was produced in the early twentieth century it was considered a cheaper alternative to silk.
Nowadays there are many companies that produce viscose, and each tends to give its name to the finished product to distinguish it from other productions.
Bamboo viscose (eco-sustainable artificial fabrics )
One of the most fashionable viscose in recent years is certainly that of bamboo : used above all for summer clothing, it has had great success for its breathable properties, extreme lightness and versatility.
The modal is a “subcategory” viscose, and comes from the Tree wood pulp beech . It is a more advanced version of rayon. The cellulose is transformed into a soft and resistant fabric, which does not shrink like cotton. As if that weren’t enough, it is also biodegradable. It is often used together with cotton or silk or to create other blended fabrics. This fabric has seen many evolutions since 1951, when it was first created in Japan.
Lyocell (eco-sustainable artificial fabrics )
The lyocell is also a type of viscose, produced from eucalyptus cellulose . It has a low environmental impact, therefore it is considered “ecological”. There are several types of lyocell on the market, but the most reliable one is produced by the Lenzig company and is called “Tencel”.
One of the most advanced viscose, recently created, is the EcoVero fabric . It is a fabric derived from sustainable cellulose sources, produced with a low amount of emissions and using 50% less water than the classic viscose.
Conscious purchase and Slow Fashion
Investigating the sustainability of the textile industry is certainly a big step towards protecting the planet, but, whatever the production process of a garment, the truly ecological fabric is the one that is not put on the market.
Sustainable fashion is based on a very simple principle: buy fewer items of clothing, and choose them that are durable and of high quality.
Choosing to buy consciously has several advantages. The first is certainly less waste and an enhancement of what you own. The second is a greater attention to the issues of ecology and sustainability.
The quality garments, produced with natural , are created with a process that requires less water, produces fewer polluting particles and uses chemicals that are safe for the skin and the environment.
Buy less, buy better (eco-sustainable artificial fabrics )
Even if quality garments have higher costs, they are a real investment : they can last several years if treated with care, and are usually created with lines and patterns that never go out of style, not because they lack personality or originality. , but because, if purchased with awareness , they respond to your personal taste. Whatever the trend of the moment, your style becomes the protagonist.
It is a totally opposite concept to that of fast fashion , which feeds on the continuous change of collections, so often you end up throwing a garment after a few months because it is no longer trendy or because it is made of a bad quality fabric. Furthermore, the companies that produce new collections every three months are forced to destroy a part of the garments they produce, due to the pressing of the seasons, not being able to afford to re-propose the same identical garment all year round and for two consecutive years. Novelty and waste often coexist.