There is often a deal of confusion as to which fabrics are available for producing your collection and their correct names as well as what the composition is and their environmental impact. Here we give you a summary of the 3 main fabric types - natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic.
SYNTHETIC MATERIALS, like polyester, nylon and acrylic are man made fabrics.
Synthetics are created through an industrial manufacturing process in which petroleum, a fossil fuel, is extracted from the earth and mechanically transformed into fibers for clothing. The resulting fiber, although soft and even silky, is actually a plastic. In fact, polyester is made of the same exact material used to make plastic bottles: polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. These fabrics have environmental issues linked directly to the production of fossil fuels which emits carbon dioxide which is harming our ozone layer and thereby contributing to the Greenhouse effect. Another environmental issue is that these ´plastic´ fabrics do not decompose.
Polyester is the most common material in our clothes – it gives a wrinkle free and elegant hang to fabric. Many fabrics are composed of natural fibers mixed with polyester to achieve the benefits of both of these types of fabrics – breathability but wrinkle free.
SEMI-SYNTHETIC MATERIALS have a natural source, but require processing to transform that natural source into a fiber that can be used for clothing.
These include rayon (aka viscose), modal, lyocell (aka Tencel®) and bamboo. These fabrics are primarily made from wood which has environmental issues due to deforestation. Heavy chemicals are also required to transform hard wood into a soft fiber and these are released into the atmosphere.
So what fabrics are the most responsible choice?
To be continued