The following editorial layout is a swatch book featuring a collection of sourced information in regards to categorising man made
and natural fibres. Within those categories the structure, characteristics and fibre groups have been identified and investigated to determine correct usage for fashion.
Sustainability has been referenced in regard to production and chemical process which has a direct and interconnecting effects on the
environment and health. Success in sustainability has been championed to show examples of how companies can align principals in business to determine ethical sustainability.
Over the last 30 years there has been a significant shift from the use of natural materials to synthetic and regenerated fibres. During 1990’s the global market for cotton and wool fibres alone held 60% of the global demand for fabric. Today the Man made fabric represent the majority of the fabric market due to its variety of uses. From fashion to decor and medical materials. In addition to this man made fibres are used for building and automotive materials. Over the a new generation of bioengineering fabrics that are regenerated from natural proteins, pulps and starches have bridged the gap between polymer and fibre. Technological advancements have paved the way with consideration to sustainability and furthering product enhancements such as smart fibres: used as transducers or change with the environment.
While alpaca, camels, goats (Hair), rabbits (fur), birds (feathers) insects produce fibre for weaving, spinning and dyeing. The animal fibers used most commonly both in the manufacturing as well as by the hand spinners are wool from domestic sheep and silk from silkworms.
The natural properties of wool make it one of the most multipurpose fibres available with this, Animal protein based fibres have the most complicated structures of any textile fibres this is due to keratin membranes and the crimp of the strands. Wool is distinct in the fact that the coat of a sheep has a naturally occurring coat called lanolin. The lanolin is removed from wool during the washing process where it is collected and later used in cosmetics and waterproofing products.
Sheep wool goes through rigorous processing and sorting before being graded in quality, weight and colour. The nature of wool insulates without trapping heat or clinging to the skin, this allows for air circulation maintaining comfortability all year round.
Wool takes to dyeing easily due to its natural creamy appearance, making it a perfect candidate for natural dyes.
The most highly prized type of silk is obtained from cocoons made by the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity (sericulture).
The shimmering appearance for which silk is prized comes from the fibers’ triangular prism-like structure which allows cloth to refract incoming light at different angles. Silk production is a painstaking process that requires constant monitoring and incubation routines. The ratio of labor and resources used to produce even the smallest amounts of silk is generally rationalised by price. Silk and wool both have the ability to be blended with other fabrics to bring out the best characteristics in garments.
Wool is considered a luxury product, in particular merino wool. This due to 3 main reasons: 1) Merino wool takes longer to grow which adds to the costs to maintain the sheep, 2) Merino also finer and grows slower in summer, therefore a need for greater flocks are needed to maintain consistent supply.
3) Standard wool can be a little scratchy however because merino is finer it results in a softer odor repelling fabric Soft, smooth, scratch and itch free. Lastly, Merino wool farmers operate in a highly ethical way in terms of care and responsible farm management to ensure the fleece is pristine.
Wool readily absorbs water meaning it has great wickability but can also release it. More so it prevents water from being on the skin, however it does dry out slowly. Generally most garment care tags suggest drying out on a flat surface to prevent warping of stretching out of shape. Further to that point if wool items are washed in warm / hot soapy water in the washing machine the garment will continue to shrink and felt. Wool is highly regarded for its felting characteristic, which also gives it strength and durability, forming a fabric that is near impossible to tear.
As pictured: Commercially reared silkworm pupae are killed by boiling them in water before the adult moths emerge, allowing the whole cocoon to be unraveled as one continuous thread. One species in particular is the Bombyx mori a blind, flightless moth which lays 500 or more eggs in four to six days and dies soon after. The eggs are tiny (one hundred eggs weigh only one gram.) From 28grams of eggs come about 30,000 worms which eat a ton of mulberry leaves and produce 5.5kgs of raw silk.
SUCCESS IN SUSTAINABILITY
It has always been a sad plight of the silkworm who may never fulfill its life as a blind, flightless moth. Until the efforts of Kusuma Rajaiah developed a new technique that avoids the slaughter of millions of silkworms in the process. By exercising the production of silk in following a religious concept of “Ahimsa” which advocates non-violence and a respect for all life. However heartfelt this plight is, consequently the silk
is double the price of conventional production.
A company in Oregon also uses this technique which is named: Peace silk. Also in Oregon a company “Zady” practices all forms of sustainability when it comes to the production of their wool products. Starting with the sheep farm. The owners graze the animals rotationally, do not plough fields, capture and use only rainwater in order to minimise disturbance to the land. The wool is shorn and sent to local cleaners who have a spotless environmental record (Chargeurs Wool, Sth Carolina) where is cleaned, carded, and combed, the longest fibers of clean, carded wool known as “wool top” are selected for production.
The wool top is then transported to a 5th generation dyeing house that specialises in non-carcinogenic dyes in consideration to the wearer and textile dyers. (G.J littlewood & Sons in Philadelphia) The spinning takes place at neighboring factory Kraemer Textiles and then sent to California to be knitted by “Ball Of Cotton” Due to the close proximity of companies involved, Zady has the opportunity to closely supervise the entire process. Further to that all factories operate only in daylight hours to minimise their own carbon footprint irrespectively.
The result is a garment that has not hurt people of the land. Further to this fair wages have been paid and staff have been subject to fair working conditions that adhere to safety legislation and most importantly that the garment is of the highest quality.
Flax has been cultivated for nearly 10,000 years and was used globally until 1793, when the invention of the cotton gin made cotton and its production an inexpensive substitute, and largely displaced flax as a fibre source until it was discovered that both linen and cotton could be blended together to the perfect fabric for temperate climates, further to that each could be blended easily with most other fibres including wool, acrylic and synthetics.
Today, flax is farmed for two general markets, one for textiles, and a second type grown for its seed, which is converted to linseed oil for artist paints.
Cotton can be woven, knitted or blended with other fibres to minimise shrinkage or wrinkles. Cotton is commonly found as a plain weave such as percale and chambray or the more durable twill weave found in denim, khaki’s and gabardine. Satin weave has a high sheen and is found in applications of sateen bedsheets that have a high sheen.
The unique fibre structure of cotton makes it one of the most natural and usable fibres used for products that are worn close to the skin, such as underwear, bedsheets and general clothing. By providing ventilation and having non allergenic properties makes it a preferable choice to those who have sensitive skin or sinus.
The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 revolutionized the agricultural cotton industry to which now cotton has become an integral element to modern life. Cotton has affordable, breathable and long lasting. Applications in daily life include fashion textiles, bedding, toweling, denim, rugs, rope, canvas tents, underwear and medical use. Due to its wide spread demand use farming practices have come under scrutiny. Cotton uses the most water and the most pesticides of any crop
or fibre manufacturing.
Cotton fabric is popular due to its easy care as well as being comfortable at any time of year to wear. Drawing moisture from the skin and allowing it to evaporate. In cooler climates cotton insulates and traps warm but allows breath-ability. The ability to withstand high water temperature means that cotton can be can be sterilised, laundered or dry cleaned.
SUCCESS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Libeco is a serious sustainable contender and general best friend to the planet. Being one of the largest linen mills in Europe, the company has strived to deliver assurity of goods and maintain strict regulations to become certified as a producer and manufacturer while also constantly reducing CO2 emission by within 4 years.
Libeco-Lagae Inc is a conglomerate of businesses that are dedicated to delivering high end linen and linen products. The pivotal point was in 1997 when the merge of two traditional weavers (both founded in 1800s) when they also launched a distribution base in New York City to service the North American market.
Located in Meulebeke, Belgium where the region is well known for its flax culture and thriving textile industry to supply 6o% of total Belgian linen production while becoming a leader in sustainability through eco literacy to which they understand the interrelationship between plants, animals and micro-organisms that come to play when farmers use the land for commercial crops. Further to that boasting the combination of high-tech manufacturing with creative and artisanal techniques to produce a style based on the ethos of delivering the essentials of simplicity and natural lifestyle products that enrich lives instead of leaching into them.With respect and opportunities for every employee libeco ensures a good working environment through production methods set by UN Global Compacts Ten Principles
The company is a result of the merge of two traditional linen weavers: Libeco founded in 1864 and Lagae founded in 1858. Since the merge in 1997, the company has grown steadily and today accounts for more than 6o% of total Belgian linen production. Among GOTS certification Libeco boast the inclusion of other certifications such as: Oeko-Tex Standard 100 known as certifying that a textile has been independently tested and found free of harmful substances. Further to that is a part of the Confederation or the Masters of Linen.
Regenerated fibres have been used since the 1890’s initially in an effort to produce a more cost effective alternative to silk. But it wasn’t until 1924 that the textile industry adapted the term “Rayon”. which is the name given to a fibrous form of regenerated cellulose that is extensively used in the textile industry to manufacture fabric for fashion.
These fibres can determined by the core element of purified cellulose derived from plant sources and animal protein.
Bamboo, lyocell, Modal and Tencel are also all made of wood or bamboo pulp, that differ slightly by manufacturing processes. Animal protein such as hair, crab shell, casein from milk are also cultivated and processed in the same respects as plant cellulose based fibres.
Although regenerated fibres can look like cotton, linen, silk or wool it is manufactured in the same way as polyester, which means that it won’t behave in the same way as either of those fibre families. This however makes it versatile in consideration to blending with natural
or synthetic fibres.
Cellulose is found in tree and bamboo trunks from which it is extracted, crushed into pulp, and soaked in a sodium hydroxide solution for a approximately 24 to 48 hours. An alkaline cellulose is formed and more chemicals are added to convert the cellulose into a viscous solution that is likened to cold honey. The solution is then extruded from spinnerets into sulphuric acid where it forms a continuous filament.
Cellulose, the structural component of cell walls in green plants: Soy, Corn, Banana, Pineapple, Beechwood are all used for Rayon. Essentially the aim is to convert hard wood into soft, flowing fabric. The science that underpins terms such as “eco”,“green” and “natural synthetic” is the marriage of the natural origin or cellulose component of the pulp with the further complex chemical treatment to render the wood pulp into a soluble and therefore resulting in being spun into fibres. Modal is a variation of Rayon. According to Ed Mass In 1977, Lenzing Modal is made from beech trees that are sustainability harvested from certified European forests. The company has also started using an environmentally friendly bleaching method for pulp for their cellulosic fibres.
The general population is somewhat skeptical about the term “Green” in regards to organically geared advertising and industry solutions for environmentally friendly. Lyocell/Tencel are ticking boxes when it comes to the planet friendly check list but there are a few parts of the process that do not allow it to qualify for organic certification. Lyocell can be produced with sustainable harvested trees pine trees, where Tencel can be produced with the use of eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus in particular uses minimal water in on land that is not fit for food based farming.
Fertilisers and pesticides are not used therefore the risk of farming related poisoning is minimized.
Chemicals from the pulp production can be recycled by switching from the calcium bi sulphate to magnesium bisulphite in order to become more environmentally friendly. Since Lyocell has low surface energy it is difficult for dyes to bind to it. The need for additional enzyme baths and dye treatments will incur greater cost to energy, chemical use and fossil fuel usage.
SUCCESS IN SUSTAINABILITY
With a focus on Tanzania, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey Mantis world is a fashion label supporting women in developing countries to sustain work in the garment industry and aids financial independence. The company is vertical integrated and adheres to strict sustainable practices in the harvesting, processing and use of regenerated fibres. From farming to manufacturing Mantis world has achieved global success for ethical and sustainable fashion.
This strong ethical ethos has
been the core of the business since it was founded in 2000
by Prama Bharwajw.
The range extends over casual modern fashion for men and women, kids and babies wear.
The sales and customer service team is based in London and oversees the client based, while the production team ensures that garments arrive in perfect condition to high profile clients ranging from fashion brands, retailers to merchandisers.
Mantis Work uses Eucalyptus from sustainable farms and soaks the wood in amine oxide which is a petrochemical but it reclaimed, purified and used again. The end result is a garment that will start decomposing after 6 weeks. Currently the company favoring Lyocell for garment production which can be energy intensive, however Mantis world is making steps toward renewable energy practices to operate
Nomex, Microfiber, Modacrylic, Nylon, Dyneema, Spectra Spandex, Vinyl-on, Vin-yon Zylon Acrylic, Aramid, Twaron Kevlar, Technora, Olefin, Polyester, Polyethylene are some of the shining stars of the synthetic family that are produced wholly from chemicals. Nylon being the first fully man made synthetic fibre.
Synthetics have a variety of uses from fibre is wholly developed to mimic natural fibres. Fabrics are derived from chemical form, usually petroleum by products and finished through extraction. This viscous form would be processed dried and spun into bobbins before being woven or knitted.
A common characteristic of synthetic fabrics is that they are strong, nonabsorbent, resists wrinkling, and is machine washable. Fibres differ significantly between polyester, Nylon, Acrylic and spandex.
Other applications of use include upholstery, carpets, and curtains and industrial parts such as tire cord, flame-proof linings, cellophane and soft drink bottles.
1939 DuPont experimented with using Nylon thread in the making of parachutes. The Americans needed to an alternative to silk used for since they could no longer acquire it from Asia. Women were asked to support the soldiers by giving up the stockings which caused the rationing of stockings during WWII since then man has gone on to create variants of synthetic fibres. Polyester in particular is one of the most chemically driven fibres that is used in textiles today. However it is convertible in terms of downscyling into PET products. PET is the recycling of plastic bags and bottles, polystyrene packaging and takeaway containers, which can be blended with other fibres like cotton to make clothing. In recent times G-Star Raw has collaborated with Farrell Williams so create the RAW for the Oceans range. Similarly EKOCYCLE is the brainchild of Coke and Will.I.Am Re-purposing aluminum cans that can be turned into recycled content for fashionable and valuable lifestyle products. This process uses nearly 50% less chemicals and energy than manufacturing new virgin polyester.
Today synthetic remain a low cost alternative textile which has great practicality appeal. These fabrics are generally easy care, long lasting, colour fast compared to natural fibres. Sophisticated technology has allowed customisation and effects through design and manipulation. The ability to blend synthetic and natural fibres has overcome the practical limitations of some natural fibres and allowed versatility when it comes to the cost and result of manufacturing.
The popularity is due to the various uses, low cost of production, however consumers fail to realise that these textiles are synthesized completely from petrochemicals. Further to that are conditioned and finished with more chemicals for the need of greater performance or “benefits.”
2012, Greenpeace found 89 of the 141 garments tested from Adidas, Disney American Apparel, Burberry, GAP, H&M, Nike, Primark, Puma and Uniqlo exhibited high levels of (NPEs) a group of toxic chemicals acting as hormone disruptors that remain in the environment for an extended time and build up in the tissue of humans some of the chemicals also effect reproductive development.
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines fabrics that commonly contain toxins like brominated flame-retardants, formaldehyde, and Teflon fibers to make the apparel “wrinkle free” are per-fluorinated compounds of which are classified as cancer-causing agents. Fabrics of this kind are found in kids wear, school uniforms, work wear, and used prevalently for middle eastern traditional dress. Children are affected most adversely due to their susceptibility to chemicals and developing bodies. Concern is also for women in the middle east who sweat in these garments which excels the release of toxins.
SUCCESS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Bella Dura is a 4th generation family owned company based in USA. Incorporating 70 years of exceptional practices in the advancements of technology and performance textiles that ensures all yarns are sourced, dyed and finished locally. Solution dyed, durable (exceeding 50,000 rubs) UV resistant (exceeding 1,500 light-fast hours), anti-microbial, bleach cleanable, and sustainable.
Earing the Bella Dura the Earth-Minded Award and silver certification from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Even though these products start out as petroleum waste the end result is 100% recyclable. The processing has been adapted in a way that uses minimal energy and water that produce no harmful waste. Sustainability continues to be a driving force where Currently they are exploring the idea of working with single fibre fabrics in order to fully close the loop.
A term used in the “sustainable practices” is referred to as down-cycling, where multiple fiber-type fabrics tend to be transformed into products like insulation materials for homes and cars and carpet underlays. Designtex is a company that practices “down-cycling” Through a strict corporate environmental strategy that involves waste reduction and recycling measures. Within their own products with the ability to reclaim outside materials.
Focused on environmental design products that impart greater environmental potential from concept and development right through to returns and recycling phase, including bottle recycling which is feed PET back into polyester fabrics known as “second generation plastics” which can then be recycled a second time into park benches, carpet, speed bumps. Virgin PET can be made into soft plastics or milk bottles, which are collected and recycled into resins, which are appropriate to convert into carpet, filler for pillows, CD cases and fibres.
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