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Heralded as being more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen, this eco-friendly fabric is making waves in the fashion industry as consumers move towards organic and sustainable fabrics. We uncover more here at F&F.
Often fabrics are described as natural (such as cotton, silk and wool) or man-made (like polyester and nylon). Tencel is a bit of both - it is a thoroughly modern, eco-friendly “regenerated” fiber made from the cellulose in wood pulp. It has gained considerable popularity and acceptance in the clothing industry - especially in designer and higher-end apparel - due to its appealing luster, texture and drape, similar to that of silk - but much easier to care for, and completely cruelty free!
So what is it and how is it made?
Tencel is the trade name for the generic fiber Lyocell. It joined the world in the early 90’s as an eco-friendly and cost efficient alternative to other popular human-made fabrics.
In short, Tencel is made from cellulose in wood pulp that has been harvested from sustainably managed forests. It is made into cellulose fibre by dissolving the wood pulp with a solvent to produce a wet mixture. This mixture is then pushed through small holes to form threads that are spun into yarn and woven or knitted into cloth. The end result is a highly sustainable fibre that is not only comfortable, but environmentally friendly - two of the most popular types of Lyocell fabrics are those made from eucalyptus trees (Tencel) and those made from bamboo.
How does Tencel impact the environment?
Tencel is not only an incredibly useful and beautiful fabric, it is arguably one of the most eco-friendly fibres on the market.
The cellulose is treated in a closed loop system, meaning no waste is produced and the solvents are recycled with a recovery rate of 99.5%.
The eucalyptus trees that are harvested for the fibre are grown on marginal land unsuitable for food crops are are grown with a minimum of water, using sustainable forestry initiatives.
The fibre itself is completely biodegradable, making it far safer to dispose of than most other common fabrics (unlike oil-based fabrics such as polyester and nylon).
No bleaching is necessary as Tencel is pure white when produced. While textile designers might use traditional dyes, Tencel requires less dye to achieve the desired effect - it has an impressive absorbency. This produces less waste and is much more cost efficient.
Tencel is extremely versatile as it can be made to varying thicknesses - e.g. short staple length fibers make Tencel look and feel cottony, and longer fibers produce a material more like silk.
Why we love wearing Tencel:
While the above is very impressive, you’re most likely curious to find out how this almost ‘magical’ material holds up in our everyday life. For some tried and tested guidance, we’ve listed 5 of our top reasons as to why Tencel is our go-to fabric:
Cozy and comfort: Tencel is extremely soft, smooth and gentle on the skin, making it an ideal choice for anyone with sensitive skin.
Wrinkle-free: The fabric has wrinkle-free resistant characteristics making it less prone to wrinkles when compared to cotton. This is mostly due to its unique moisture absorption ability.
Moisture absorption: Tencel’s superpowers lie with its ability to enhance breathability. The smooth surface of the fibre absorbs and releases moisture efficiently, supporting the body's natural thermal regulation, ensuring that you stay cool and dry on on those hot summer days.
Hygienic: Continuing from the above, the absorbing properties are responsible for the reduced bacteria growth. The moisture is completely transported to the inside of the fibers, eliminating bacterial growth as no moisture film can be formed.
Aesthetics: Tencel is fast becoming a designer favourite not only due to it’s durability but its pleasing, lustrous aesthetics, giving silk and alike a run for their money. Tencel is a dream for simplifying your wardrobe and ensuring your transition from day to night is fuss free.
The benefits are almost endless which is why it is no wonder that Tasi Travels and Kooshoo have chosen Tencel as their fabric of choice. The ranges will not only make you look and feel good, but will help you to reduce your impact on our dear planet. The Tasi Travels range is perfect for when you’re out and about or adventuring as the Tasi pieces don't hold sweat (aka smell) so you look and feel fresh to wear your clothes again and again, reducing the need to wash your clothes as regularly.
With more and more studies showing the impact that manufacturing is having on our planet, it is great to see brands such as Tasi Travels and Kooshoo providing exciting sustainable options when it comes to clothing. While consumers and designers choose and use fabrics for an array of reasons, the sustainability of the fabric should be a prime consideration for us all in our journey towards making fashion a more environmentally conscious industry.