Five of the Latest Materials Used for Sustainable Clothing Manufacturing
Sustainable fashion or eco-fashion seems to be all the rage nowadays and there’s good reason for it. Ever since fast fashion became a norm, a lot of failures and disastrous incidents have brought the trend into spotlight for reasons which are not so nice. Reasons ranging from environmental effects, to poor working conditions of manufacturers, to even death! The Bangladesh clothing factory Rana Plaza collapse for example, was a result of the negligence of big brands, wholesale clothing suppliers, and private label clothing manufacturers to adhere to ethical standards when their clothes were being manufactured.
No one can deny the benefit to social responsibility that sustainable fashion is having. If all fabrics and materials used today to manufacturing clothes happened to be sustainable, not only would fashion’s challenges with the environment be solved but it would probably change the environment for the greater good for generations to come. In the US for example, more than 10 million tonnes of clothing is thrown out as garbage and only a paltry percentage is recycled. Here’s an infographic to show you exactly what that cotton t-shirt can cost you.
If the concerns of tractional fashions resonate with you, and you want to start adopting more sustainable materials into your collection, here are five of the most curious and latest sustainable materials of clothing you can ask the custom clothing manufacturers you have hired, to use today!
For anyone who may does not know what bamboo is, it’s a plant grown in South Asia and East Asia. It does not require fertilizers or pesticides and can grow fairly resiliently and quickly with very little water. The fabric and material itself is very silky and has the ability to absorb sweat and moisture. The fabric’s durability is also reminiscent of the plant itself.
Bamboo derived fabrics can be branched under rayon or bamboo threads. Clothing made from bamboo threads are more labor intensive and tend to be artisanal. Rayon itself is a cellulose based fiber. Bamboo based lyocell (tencel) is an example of a rayon based fabric. Product wise, bamboo based clothing is great for softer products like undergarments or soft t-shirts and also for sports products.
There are some concerns though for the process of how bamboo based rayon is made. The manufacturing process involves chemicals both harmful and harmless in a lot of ways. Slowly developments are being made to make the process more socially responsible.
Hemp has been used for clothing materials for some time now, well back since ancient Egypt. Hemp’s applications are more diverse than just clothing. It’s the environmental and sustainable benefits that make the plant extremely admirable for wide applications as substitutes to the norm.
Like bamboo, the plant grows fast in the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, requires very little water, and produces more fibre in terms of the amount grown. This aspect of it makes it strong and durable. The feel of hemp clothing is akin to linen and it’s UV resistant properties make it great for for warmer weather. Product wise, if your target market resides in warmer climates then hemp based clothing is a great alternative to cotton.
Qmilk is a textile produced from milk casein. Yes you heard that, milk can now be used to make clothes! A German company, Qmilch GmbH innovated the process to produce the textile, in as little as five minutes using a maximum of 2 litres of water. The CO2 emissions are low and the cost savings are immense. Along with that, the fact that it’s biodegradable is another reason why it’s so alluring.
Much like bamboo as well, the feel of fabric is soft and silky. The presence of allergens is low and the material actually absorbs moisture and sweat, perfect for people with sensitive skin. One of the drawbacks though, is that the fabric get’s wrinkled quite easily and needs to be ironed out. It’s great for warm weather but when it comes to actual product, it’s best used to make more high end apparel. The video below shows some apparel made using Qmilk.
Akin to the process of obtaining lyocell, seacell is fabric obtained by mixing cellulose with seaweed. Nanonic Inc, a company based in Florida, innovated this fiber and created two types of it actually; one is the regular seaweed oriented one and the other has silver added to it for a more effective fabric. Like Qmilk, hemp, and bamboo it’s biodegradable and the process of manufacturing it as well is low emission.
Like all the other fabrics mentioned before, seacell is also breathable, light, and soft. It feels great on the skin and though this claim is controversial, even the benefits of seaweed are retained in the material, which the skin slowly absorbs. A fabric that actually improves your health and wellbeing! Product wise, it’s perfect for activewear and athleisurewear. Lululemon for example uses Seacell in a lot of their clothings and a lot of other brands have started to adopt the fibre into their clothing as well.
This may sound absurd, but real organic cotton is free of any pesticides or additives and the production process is strictly adhered to low emission and environmentally friendly standards. So much so that in the US every single process in cultivation and production must be approved by the USDA. Even those wanting to sell clothing made from organic cotton must meet the standards set forth by the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. Outside of the US, organic cotton is largely grown by India, China, and Turkey. Countries in Africa, including Egypt, are also producers. When one talks about fair trade and sustainable clothing, this kind of cotton is the ultimate paradigm. Take a look at this infographic to understand more.
. Source: hearstmags.com
With the rise in demand for it, a lot of brands include Nike and Walmart have switched mostly completely to organic cotton. The rise in demand is also facilitating the transition well. The feel of the fabric is much softer that regular cotton, bringing along with it all the properties that make cotton the most popular crop to make fabric out of. If this trend continues then the organic cotton could well one day become the norm for most private label clothing brands.
As the average Bangladesh clothing factory is moving up the apparel value chain, the opportunity to produce clothing with sustainable materials has never been more ripe. Organic cotton is already a very popular material imported by the Bangladesh clothing industry, and many more are following. If you’re trying to understand exactly how sustainable materials can fit in with your production needs; shoot us an email. We’re here to help!
Cover image source: www.merchandise-essentials.com