In the field of sustainable fashion, the type of fine fabric from which a garment is made has become a matter that many consumers take seriously. In recent years, the source and treatment methods used to finish the yarns have also become of interest to buyers. Sustainable and eco-friendly fabrics are the basis of the finished product and, at the same time, the business card for companies that want to showcase their sustainability credentials to their potential clients.
Obviously, presenting a quality and hard-wearing product made from sustainable fabrics incurs a higher cost, however, it would seem that consumers are willing to pay a higher price.
WHEN SUSTAINABILITY IS CERTIFIED
When we talk about eco-friendly fabrics we mean those fabrics that have a low impact on our planet, throughout the fibre’s cultivation, treatment and spinning phases. There are several recognised standard certifications, such as the Organic Content Standard (OCS) certificate, which attest and guarantee that a yarn is organic and sustainable. These certifications are different for each type of yarn but collectively are guarantees that counter the mistrust created by cases of greenwashing.
THE WIDE CHOICE OF ECO-FRIENDLY FABRICS
But what are these sustainable fabrics? Eco-friendly fabrics are divided into natural fabrics, artificial fabrics and, strange but true, synthetics. Natural fabrics are made entirely from organic and natural raw materials. They range from cotton to the finest fabrics such as linen, silk and wool, especially cashmere. These fabrics are particularly important because they are organic – when composed of 95% natural fibres, and are biodegradable when treated without changing the chemical composition of the fibre.
So-called artificial fabrics are environmentally friendly fabrics created in the laboratory from natural fibres. This type of fabric falls under the viscose umbrella and is being researched on a global scale to find ever more innovative, sustainable fabrics that use fewer and fewer chemicals to sinter them. The interesting thing about these fabrics is that they are derived from food waste or wood pulp, so they are biodegradable. The best known, right after viscose, is Lyocell, a fibre produced from the cellulose of eucalyptus wood. Less well known, but also derived from the same production process as Lyocell, is Modal, extracted from the pulp of the beech tree.
When it comes to synthetic fine fabrics we have to be more careful because they are commonly believed to be ‘plastic’ and therefore ‘harmful to the environment’. It may seem counterintuitive to use synthetic fibres when the trend is towards green, but several companies still attach importance to them believing that they are able to benefit the planet.
Without these eco-friendly fine fabrics it would not be possible to talk about sustainable fashion. Regardless of whether natural eco-friendly fabrics, or artificial fabrics made from organic raw materials or recycled plastics are used, what makes a fine fabric environmentally friendly and sustainable are the certifications that attest to the reduction of their environmental impact.
For more detailed information, see the in-depth article of eco-friendly fabrics by Ratti, now one of the world’s leading players in the production of high-end fabrics and accessories.