As new technologies have made changes in all aspects of our life, from the way we live to the way we work, there have also been major technological advances in the fabrics that our clothes come from. Many of these new fabrics bring major environmental benefits by helping to reduce the water consumption, soil degradation and energy loss caused by more traditional fabric production.
The basis of many of these new fabrics is viscose, which may bring back bad memories of the 80s! However, these modern viscose fabrics are no longer petroleum based, and are made of a pulped substance such as wood which is made into a very fine thread, making the fabric breathable and comfortable to wear.
Here are some of the most innovative new fabrics and our favourite brands using them:
Tencel Modal and Lyocell Fabrics
Tencel and Lyocell fabrics are man-made viscose fabrics derived from Forest Stewardship Certified wood, usually from beech trees. The fabrics are created by pulping wood and placing it in a chemical mix to break it down. Nearly all of the chemicals are then recycled back into the process to create more fabric, unlike viscose where the chemicals are often dumped.
This process breaks the wood pulp down to a molecular level, after which it is pushed through a very fine mesh to create a yarn. The yarn can then be weaved, and either conventionally dyed or laser printed with water safe inks. Both Lyocell and Tencel can also be woven with other materials like organic cotton or wool to create beautiful soft and breathable fabrics.
'Tencel' labelled products guarantee that the fabric is made by Tencel, who are 100% in control of their supply chain from the forests to fabric. They also work hard to ensure that their fabric has the smallest carbon footprint possible by replanting trees for every one they cut down, using byproducts from any wood pulp waste to create biofuel chips, and using the acetic acid (a byproduct of the pulping process) to create eco cleaning products.
Much of the Bobo Choses collection contains mixed blend fabrics including the gorgeous Brush Strokes Straight Dress, constructed from 70% Lyocell and 30% linen making it perfect to wear all summer long.
It’s not just wood that is being used to make amazing new fabrics. There are also major advances in turning waste products into fabric, including food waste. Soy waste based fabric is the new kid on the block, created from the hulls of soybeans and processed in a similar way to Tencel. This creates a beautiful cashmere-like fabric without the itchiness. It's the perfect fabric for delicates worn against the skin, and the composition means it has slight stretch and moisture wicking properties.
Aboutwear is an amazing forward-thinking brand who manage their whole production process, from fabric knitting and dyeing to sewing and packaging, under one roof at their factory in Lithuania. Their supply chain is 100% clean, with the factory providing renewable energy and cleaning their water so well it is actually drinking water quality!
They have always championed alternative and sustainable fabrics, now including soy, and the Flame Red Asis collection has just landed in store, made from 47% soy, 46% cotton and 7% elastane.