Here at Jennr HQ (basically my laptop and an extremely overloaded desk) I am tirelessly searching for the next buzz in sustainable and eco friendly fabrics. Recently I have been exploring vegan fabrics, as I endeavour to create a range of silky scarves made from, guess what, NO SILK!
While I am a huge fan of Peace Silk and the ethical and sustainable methods used by the manufacturers we have carefully chosen to supply our silk, I envisage printing our designs on a completely non-animal derived fabric. One with the same luxurious qualities as silk of course!
Unfortunately many vegan fabrics, have a hugely damaging impact on the environment (not to mention the unethical working practises that come with the mass production of these fabrics.) However, new technologies in textile manufacturing have allowed for some exciting developments.
One remarkable achievement is that of a fabric produced entirely from orange peel Yes really! But until fabrics like this are more readily available, I have come up with a list of some vegan and earth friendly alternatives to silk.
Modal and Lyocell
For me these are the big hitters due to how closely the fibres imitate the soft, drapey feel of silk.
Lyocell is the second generation of Modal a fabric produced from wood pulp. Lyocell is sustainable because it is produced from renewable trees. Moreover, it uses far less water than cotton, in its production.
Tencel is a brand of Lyocell that is committed to environmentally sound production.
It has long been a more eco friendly alternative to cotton and very lightweight mixes offer a soft breathable fabric, a good alternative to lightweight silks!
Linen only requires rain water to grow unlike cotton. It is soft, breathable and can be mixed with other fabrics. It requires fewer harmful chemicals in its production and is completely biodegradable. HURRAH!
Recycled polyester is made from the same material used to make plastic drinking bottles. The material in its raw form is called PET and turning PET into garments we can wear over and over again, prevents it ending up as landfill. Wonderfully satiny textures can be created from rPET and therefore it makes a great alternative to silk.
Recycled polyester also takes much less energy to produce than normal polyester. Moreover, when you are finished with your garment, if it isn’t passed on for someone else to use, it can be recycled again!
There has been a recent storm in the media about how the manufacturing of cotton is simply not sustainable. In fact, 20000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1 kg of cotton, that is the equivalent to one top and pair of trousers!
No harmful chemicals are used to grow organic cotton, making it a better friend to the planet. It is, by no means the most eco friendly material out there, but it is a good alternative to non organic cotton.
Hemp is a champion of eco friendly, natural and sustainable fabrics. It doesn’t require pesticides and retains water well due to its root structure, so it can be grown organically with ease. It is breathable, bacteria inhibiting and completely biodegradable. What’s not to like!
Technological advancements in fabric production allow for softer fibres and shearer densities to be rendered from hemp. Thus enabling Hemp to shake off its heavy, rough reputation of the past.
Personally I am very excited to explore how our prints turn out on lyocell and lyocell mixes this year and have also just ordered some swatches of recycled polyester to trial!