The A-Z of sustainable fabrics & materials. Learn about our fave eco materials.
by Ciara Shah·
The rhetoric surrounding sustainability is often centred around the fabrics themselves. The fabric or materials play a crucial role in the general sustainability of a product. The materials are responsible for up to 80% of the products footprint.
Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."
In order to create products and supply chain which is less negatively impacting the planet there are a lot of innovations coming into the marketplace. The sustainability of materials depends on it's effect on the economy, society & the environment.
Here is our breakdown of the most innovative sustainable fabrics and materials just for you.
Cupro is a silk like fabric that uses discarded cotton as it's raw material. It helps to divert the waste from cotton from landfill, making the earth a greener place. Cupro is made using linter which are the tiniest bits of cotton which stick off the cottonseed that cannot actually be spun because they are too tiny. The leftover linter from the cotton industry is then placed in a solution and then spun into a fibre. The process does involve chemicals but comes from plant materials, similar to Tencel.
The handfeel of cupro is silky soft that will feel smooth and luxurious over your skin, acting as a perfect staple inside the closet. It's a great substitute for silk as it is a vegan silk.
Organic Cotton :
Organic cotton is cotton grown in pesticide free environments with the environment in mind. Organic cotton farmers can keep the soil healthier and diversified for longer as the fertility of the soil is not compromised. Additionally the farmers are not exposed to harmful chemicals which prioritises workers health as well as the health of communities and the eco system which it surrounds.
Organic cotton is a fully biodegradable material which fully composts after it is finished with use. Upcycling can also be used to prolong the life line of the organic cotton garment. The absence of polyester makes organic cotton products much more breathable than other materials or blends.
Recycled Polyester :
Recycled polyester is also known as rPet. It is created by melting down existing plastic and re - spinning it into new polyester fibres. The fabrics can be made from either post-industrial or post-consumer materials. EG 5 water bottles can yield enough fibre for an XL large T shirt. This material is a waste solution for materials which could otherwise end up in the oceans.
Recycled polyester's sustainable production requires low resources and energy to produce, and contribution to low CO2 emissions. It also reduces the dependance on fossil fuels to make more virgin plastic. Although micro plastics can still be released on washing garments made from recycled PET the use of a guppy bag, or the design process aka creating a piece of outerwear which doesn't need excessive washing is preferred.
Vegan Leather :
Vegan leather does not make use of animal sources for any of their materials required to produce their fabric. It actually saves CO2 emissions, energy and resources because it uses plant or chemical based materials. It is also cruelty free.
Although a product can be vegan there are different types of materials. Newer innovations are plant based such as apple leather and others are synthetic which can be recycled or are recycled.
Tencel (lyocell) :
Tencel branded lyocell and modal fibres are created from sustainable sourced wood, using pulp as raw materials. The fabric is actually produced using an environmentally responsible closed loop production process, meaning its solvent has a recovery rate of more than 99%, so no chemical or organic waste is produced in the process.
Tencel fibres are naturally soft to the touch and offer breathability and comfort. It is described as even more soft then cotton. It has a high durability due to the flexibility of the fibres even during and after multiple washes. The material is moisture absorbent so it's perfect for working out and absorbing sweat.
These fibres are certified as compostable and biodegradable.
Econyl ® :
Econyl ® is a nylon yarn made from regenerated fishing nets, fabric scraps and industrial plastic.
Econyl ® reuses discarded materials, so it directly diverts waste and plastic that would otherwise be polluting ecosystems away from oceans. Not only that but it also saves crude oil, and produces lower CO2 emissions, making for a much healthier atmosphere. It regenerates nylon, producing a fibre which is as usable and versatile as nylon without losing the quality or functionality. The products can be infinitely recycled.
Linen is a strong and lightweight fabric made from the flax plant. It's ideal for floaty and timeless clothing. It actually is an ancient fibre cultivated from plants and has been used since around 8000 BC.
Linen is a sustainable fabric as it's low on water consumption, resources and energy to create. There is also little or no pesticides used on linen farms. It is noted for durability and versatility. It can withstand super high temperatures making this fabric perfect for super hot climates and vacations!
Linen is bio based which makes it fully biodegradable.
Apple Skin :
Apple skin is a leather substitute crafted from the scraps of left over apples from the food and drinks industry composed of a minimum of 50% apple skin and core waste.
This innovative fabric recycles food scraps. It uses vegan tanning processes where few toxic chemicals are used. People get irked by the fact that there is still polyester needed in most renditions of apple leather. This is because it is necessary to bind the material and make it durable.
Recycled Nylon :
Recycled nylon is mostly made from post - industrial fabric waste, although it also comes from post- consumer waste like nylon carpets, tights and industrial fishing nets. It is a great solution to take the plastic waste out of the oceans and create a durable product which saves water, energy and fossil fuels.
Recycled nylon is high quality and extremely durable, so nylon is often used for technical, high performance products like active and sports clothing. It is also endlessly recyclable allowing it to continue it's life cycle seamlessly.
Although these are the main sustainable fabrics that we look for when curating our collections, there are many innovations happening especially in the footwear and accessories industries. By utilising discards from the food and drink industry there is even grape leather on the market. Stay tuned because we will bring you all the information as we receive it.