Fabrics say a lot about the real impact of a garment. For example, is it biodegradable, made from natural fibers? Do the plants and raw materials require a lot of water to produce? Or a lot of land and time? Is it vegan? Bottom line is, you need to know what these eco fabrics are all about and how to recognise them. So here’s our favorite sustainable textiles that even Vogue is talking about
Hemp is the upcoming textile in the fashion industry. Hemp plants need very little water to grow and no pesticides. It grows very fast and it any environment. It needs half as much water and half as much land as cotton. The material is thus totally biodegradable and allows your skin to breathe and thermoregulate.
Linen is a sustainable material because it does not require any pesticides to grow. It is mostly grown in eastern Europe. The plant is also very versatile, it is used to make flax seeds, flax oil and the production is cost effective. It is entirely biodegradable (if not dyed) and comes in many neutral earthy natural colours.
Modal is a man made fiber extracted from tree pulp or plant cellulose. It is biodegradable and resists very well to washing. It looks a bit more like an artificial fabric because it is very supple and soft like viscose. Its definitely a sustainable fabric but you need to carefully analyse the label to see if it was ecologically manufactured.
Tencel® is the brand name for Lyocell, a natural textile derived from ecological eucalyptus pulp. The eucalyptus tree grows very fast and uses minimal land, which makes it a very reliable source. It is very breathable, antibacterial and thermoregulating. It’s soft like silk but also very resistant which makes it the top eco fiber in the fashion game. We will be seeing more and more brands adopt it.
Even though cotton is very water intensive and land consuming, it is a good option if you want to make a difference. First of all, you will help make pesticides and herbicides obsolete by promoting natural growing methods. It will also avoid GMOs in the cotton industry and better working conditions on the farms. Plus, your clothes will be free from nasty chemicals and so will your skin !
We’re entering the vegan grey zone. Even though we’re firm advocates of the cruelty free movement, we can’t help but prefer organic wool or organic silk to polyester and viscose. The traditional vegan fashion often uses some not so eco fabrics. If brands continue working with traditional, small farmers that produce organic animal fibers, we’ll go with it. Slow fashion is also about reconnecting with our roots and promoting ethical businesses, even if they include animals.