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A Quick Guide for Organic Fabrics and Eco-Friendly Fashion Alternatives

by Boris Hodakel  • January 21, 2019 • 3 min read

As we mention in our blog post The Return of Sustainable Fashion, the fashion industry isn’t as glamorous or clean as it may portray. With so much of our unwanted clothing filtering into landfill each day, choosing to recycle unwanted fabrics will help reduce this global issue.

However, the source of the problem starts at the creation of the fabric used for production. With recent coverage of how the Aral Sea is disappearing due to cotton farming on the BBC’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, looking at how alternatives could prevent this global damage is key to finding the right balance in eco-conscious consumerism.

There are several companies now striving to produce clothing in ethical and sustainable ways to protect the environment while providing consumers with on-trend style choices. Green or eco-friendly fabrics are making waves in the fashion industry and are altering the way designers think and feel about the products they are creating.

There are still some changes to be made in the fast-fashion cycle including the use of some fabrics that are described as ‘sustainable’ alternatives to cotton or polyester. Viscose is one such fabric, and its production has seen severe environmental damage in recent years due to contaminated water and untreated waste products from its creation.

Despite the many fashion items that have questionable manufacturing processes, there is a host of organic fabric alternatives that are appearing in modern fashion collections. Take a look at some of the top options below:

Hemp fabric

This unique and distinctive fabric provides a stylish and high-quality fashion addition to your wardrobe. Hemp is a durable and soft material, which is grown with little or no pesticides. The beauty of this plant is that it only requires minimal attention while cultivating. It also doesn’t deplete the nutrients of the soil, so is easy to re-harvest time and time again.

Benefits of using hemp for clothing:

  • Comfortable
  • Durable material
  • Naturally UV resistant
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Biodegradable

Organic cotton fabric

The production of traditional cotton uses harmful pesticides and chemical input, so choosing organic fabrics is an ideal alternative to these harsh manufacturing processes. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic or synthetic chemicals, and if used alongside natural dyes, it can also help to reduce the amount of chemical waste that is discarded into the ecosystem.

Benefits of using organic cotton for clothing:

  • Soft material
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight

Bamboo fabric

Clothing made from bamboo offers a natural and comfortable fabric that has a range of benefits. This renewable source is grown using very few chemicals and is biodegradable. Although bamboo is mostly described as a sustainable fabric for clothing, it is also essential to keep up to date with how particular bamboo products are made. As some may involve chemical processes to speed the growth of this plant, which in turn defeats the purpose of its sustainable attributes.

Benefits of using bamboo for clothing

  • Antibacterial fibres
  • Moisture absorbent
  • Natural insulator
  • Soft and comfortable against skin

Tencel fabric

Tencel is the brand name for the material lyocell and is the product of wood cellulose or pulp harvested from trees. Designers often favour this material in clothing production as it provides a soft finish and wrinkle resistance, which is a huge selling point for shoppers. This fabric is versatile and is also perfect for people that have sensitive skin. In production, non-toxic solvents are used, and the material itself is biodegradable so closes the loop on landfill waste.

As this fabric is also very absorbent, fewer dyes are used to create the desired product. When Tencel is produced, its bright white colour also prevents the need to bleach the material after production, which decreases the number of chemicals entering the ecosystem.

Benefits of using Tencel for clothing:

  • Durable
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Absorbs moisture
  • Remains colour rich

Linen fabric

Linen is a popular fabric for lightweight summer clothing and is made from fibres created from the flax plant. This natural alternative is harvested without the use of pesticides and has little wastage, as the whole plant is used to form fibres. Linen is often used as a lightweight clothing option and is breathable and durable.

Benefits of using linen for clothing:

  • Highly absorbent
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Durable

The way clothing is manufactured has a massive impact on overall health and the environment. Using organic fabrics are just some of the things that companies can do to change the way people shop for ethical and eco-friendly clothing. Other elements in the fashion chain include looking at where clothing is manufactured, the carbon footprint of brands and eliminating certain toxic and unethical practices from the production process.


About the author:

Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.