TENCEL™ Fabric and the Evolution of Ethical Fashion
Over the past several decades, fashion has witnessed a captivating ethical evolution. It started with the hippies of the 60s and 70s, who advocated for natural fibers. A punk rock era of upcycled pieces followed. More recently, there has been a crucial movement toward sustainable production practices and a reduction in the use of synthetic textiles — all of this to be more in line with equitable working environments and a lighter carbon footprint.
When it comes to ethical fashion, there are several factors to consider. Is this year’s trend made with sustainable materials? Is it produced in a socially responsible way, meaning that workers are paid fairly and provided with safe working conditions? Are the supply chains involved committed to reducing waste?
Enter TENCEL™, a cellulose fiber that answers the call on all fronts.
What Is TENCEL™ Fabric?
TENCEL™ (also called Lyocell), a fabric known for its versatility and softness, was not invented by a single person but rather by a team of researchers looking for a potential alternative to cotton at a company called Courtaulds Fibres in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. After years of research and development, the company finally introduced its TENCEL™ fiber to the market, gaining immediate recognition for its softness, comfort, and eco-friendly features.
How is TENCEL™ produced? These cellulose-derived fibers come from sustainably managed forests — primarily birch, beech, spruce, and eucalyptus. The wood is pulped and pushed through a “spinneret” to separate the fibers and form strands, and the result is TENCEL™ fibers that are made into yarn and fabric.
What Makes TENCEL™ an Ethical Fashion Option?
Not only is TENCEL™ made from sustainable wood pulp, but it also requires significantly less water and energy to produce compared to traditional fabrics. TENCEL™ fabric is also biodegradable, significantly reducing fashion’s dirty secret — textile waste. Today, TENCEL™ material is used by leading fashion brands worldwide, and its innovative manufacturing process has become a model for sustainable and ethical production practices in the industry.
Who Is Using TENCEL™?
Today, there are hundreds of brands using TENCEL™ in their manufacturing, from outdoor adventure platforms like Camper to high fashion brands like Guess, ASOS, and Espirit. The fiber is also helping notorious fast fashion brands like H&M clean up their act.
Here are a few brands showcasing the wide variety of products that can be made from this innovative material. For the hundreds of other brands that use versions of TENCEL™ material, check out the extensive brand directory.
Allbirds, one of the most well-known sustainable footwear brands, incorporates TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers into their Tree-based shoes. These fibers are derived from eucalyptus tree pulp and offer biodegradability, making these shoes a super planet-friendly choice. The use of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers in Allbirds’ Tree collection helps create a cooling effect by wicking away moisture, along with their carbon footprint!
AGAM Socks, an Indonesian-based company, has recently expanded its sustainable offerings by partnering with TENCEL™ to create the AGAM THERMALSTER and AGAM PRESTIGE collections. Both utilize TENCEL™ Modal, which is renowned for its premium quality and sustainable manufacturing process. It’s also gentle on the skin and offers enhanced breathability and durability, making the socks suitable for repeated washes. No fast fashion here!
Not just for clothing, Bare Home uses TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers derived from eucalyptus trees to make premium ethical bedding. Their TENCEL™ Lyocell Sheet Set, Duvet Cover Set, and Pillowcase Set are all crafted with 100% TENCEL™ Lyocell fabric, which aligns with the body’s natural thermal regulation system — another selling point of the material choice.
Long a trailblazer in doing ethical production all the way, renowned outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, incorporates TENCEL™ fibers combined with post-consumer cotton fabric scraps into clothing items, like premium shirts and pants. It doesn’t hurt that these outdoor functional clothing items benefit from TENCEL™ breathability and naturally moisture-wicking properties.
The Future of Ethical Fashion
The future of ethical fashion lies in the use of equally ethical fibers. By opting for ethical fibers, such as organic cotton, hemp, and recycled polyester, and supporting innovative materials like Piñatex (made from pineapple leaf fibers), Mylo (made from mushroom leather), or TENCEL™, we make a fashionable vote for the world we want to live in.
Researchers and innovators are continuously exploring alternatives to traditional materials, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of ethical fashion. As technology advances, look for the development of new and even more sustainable fibers that leave the planet and clothing racks better than they found it.
Join the Charge
Fashion is a great place to start replacing bad consumer habits with greener options — starting with innovative materials like TENCEL™!
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By evee Life Contributor
Published January 2, 2024 3:22PM
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