At EcoVibe Apparel, we strive to focus on sustainable fabrics that are ethically produced. Our products are not made exclusively from these materials, but here are some of our favorites and why we like them.
In the fabric world, Tencel is known for its flattering drape and luxurious, refined look. Soft, breathable, durable and comfortable, tencel fabric is also shrink resistant and easy to care for. A natural fiber made from the cellulose found in wood pulp from farmed hardwood trees, primarily fast growing Eucalyptus. The fiber is economical in its use of energy and natural resources, and is fully biodegradable. The fiber is produced via an advanced 'closed loop' solvent spinning process, with minimal impact on the environment.
The smooth fiber surface of TENCEL™
Lyocell fibers absorbs moisture more efficiently than cotton. This supports the body’s natural thermal regulating mechanism, keeping your skin feeling pleasantly cool and dry throughout the day and night. Fabrics can also be engineered to provide warm and dry sensations on the skin.
Modal is an extremely soft rayon fabric that is made from the pulp of beech trees. The trees are never cut down, instead they are trimmed to harvest the fiber. Beech trees rejuvenate themselves without any artificial irrigation or planting. 95% of the production materials used to make the yarn are recovered and reused and it is also a CO2 neutral fiber. Modal fabric is typically blended with spandex to create a soft, fabric with excellent drape that is lightweight and breathable like cotton but is significantly more durable, can withstand warm water with washing, and does not fade or pill.
Bamboo apparel is softer than the softest cotton, and it has a natural sheen like silk or cashmere. Bamboo drapes like silk or satin, yet is less expensive and more durable. Made from the pulp of bamboo fiber, bamboo fabric is naturally antibacterial, hypo-allergenic, and provides sun protection, blocking out 97.5% of harmful UV rays. While the process of transforming bamboo fibers into fabric is a chemical process (see Rayon below), bamboo in it's natural form is a sustainable plant that is fast growing, needs very little water and thrives naturally without using any chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Bamboo fabric is also 100% biodegradable.
Cotton is the world's most beloved natural fiber. Cotton is soft, breathable, hypoallergenic and incredibly durable, while still being 100% biodegradeable. When it comes to cotton, organic cotton is significantly more eco-friendly than conventionally-grown cotton. Conventional cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop, accounting for 10% of world-wide pesticide use. We seek to use organic cotton wherever possible.
Linen is an ancient natural fiber made from the stalk of the flax plant and is one of the very first fibers that people made into string and cloth. Flax is a tall, reed-like plant with long fibers which make it easy to spin into thread. Linen is regarded in Europe as the best quality fabric in the world. It softens the more it is used and washed, is extremely durable and lasts decades when cared for correctly, and even improves with age! Linen is 30% stronger than cotton, has a high moisture absorbency, is hypo-allergenic and highly breathable. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly fabrics as it requires very little water and chemicals to cultivate.
In addition to animal welfare related issues, the production of leather items can have a significant negative impact on the environment. The two primary materials used to make what is known as "vegan leather" are Polyurethane (PU) or Polyvinylchloride (PVC). These names tend to be used interchangeably although they are inherently different. While both materials are man made and neither material is biodegradable, it has been proven that vegan leather actually leaves less of an environmental footprint than real leather overall, even though leather is considered a natural product. PU is the best choice for a number of reasons. PU is known to be a greener alternative to PVC in both production and after-care. It does not require the same chemical plasticizers to produce and will eventually degrade over time. PU also provides the most realistic imitation of leather when it comes to its soft supple hand, will patina like natural leather and is naturally water resistant. Our vegan leather jackets are produced by a certified Vegan and PETA approved manufacturer that adheres to ethical and fair trade labor practices.
We also look to one of our community members Sica Schmitz, of Bead & Reel, where she carefully details a deep dive into vegan / sustainable fibers. Check out her blog post on it here.