We all want to feel and look good in the clothes we wear. And although fit, color and style lead the way in our opinions of clothing, there is one very important factor that we should also keep in mind: the fabric.
Today we are going to answer the important question: Why the Fabric of Your Clothes Matters.
There are three general categories of materials used in clothing. These are natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic. Because the fabric of our clothes is not only important to us, but also the environment, let's take a look at each materials' environmental impact as well.
Natural materials exist organically in nature. These materials come from farms and are created from either plants or animals.
Plant-based materials: cotton, linen, hemp and raffia. These can all be farmed organically or grown using chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Animal-based materials: wool (from sheep), silk (from silk worms), cashmere (from goats) and alpaca. When it comes to animal-based materials, the way to be conscious here is similar to shopping for animal-based food products. Support material origins, i.e. farms, in which animals interactions are humane and environmentally sound.
Synthetic materials: polyester, nylon and acrylic. These are the materials that do not naturally exist, but instead are made in factories. Because of this, synthetic materials are created through a manufacturing process. In these industrial factory processes, petroleum, which is 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.
The materials have a natural source, but do undergo processing to transform into a fiber that can be used for clothing. These fabrics include rayon (viscose), modal, lyocell and bamboo.
Being particular with how you choose your fabrics will undoubtedly create a new thoughtful process to cultivating your personal style. Good manufacturing goes hand in hand with having an edited approach to dressing. This may mean having a smaller wardrobe that consists of pieces that have been well-crafted, thoughtfully sourced and worn regularly.
What are the two leading fabrics in sustainability?
Cotton and silk. Silk is the protein fiber that is spun by a silk moth larvae to make its cocoon. In the commercial production process of silk, some moths are kept for breeding in order to multiply the number of cocoons constructed. However, even in the commercial process, because silk is a natural fibre regardless, it remains a readily biodegradable fabric.
Another fabric that remains renewable and environmentally-friendly throughout it's entire life cycle is cotton. This fabric is sustainable, biodegradable and perhaps the greatest benefit of cotton is that the crops it's grown from do not have to be treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms.
With more understanding on the intricacies of fabrics and their origin, we hope it will be easier to shop consciously! If you're looking to add pieces to your wardrobe that are 100% silk and give back to the community, shop the artTECA wearable art collection.