Enter Tencel. Tencel fibres are being used to make fabric for clothing by iconic designers and retailers including Ted Baker, Victoria’s Secret and Levi’s, to name a few and by sustainable fashion brands such as People Tree. But what is making this new fabric so popular and why is it considered a more environmentally friendly choice for clothing brands?
What is Tencel?
Tencel is the new cotton on the block. Produced by the Austrian company Lenzing AG, Tencel™ is the brand name for a set of fibres called 'Modal' and 'Lyocell' and is referred to in the industry as “regenerated cellulose". In comparison, just as Hoover is the trademark name for vacuum cleaners, Tencel is the trademark name for Modal and Lyocell fibres. The fibres are incredibly versatile and are often combined with other textiles such as cotton, wool, polyester and silk to improve the fabric’s functionality.
How is it made?
The brand claims that the fabric is produced from natural, raw wood material which is sourced sustainably from forests. Allegedly, wood pulp is dissolved in a chemical solvent and the mixture is then pushed through small holes (like a spaghetti maker) to form fibres. The fibres are then chemically treated, spun into yarn and can be woven into cloth. Throughout the process, the water is recycled and the solvent is reused to form new fibres, which lessens any harmful waste made in the production process. Tencel claims that as it uses plant materials, it is biodegradable and also requires less energy and water in its production than cotton. Sounds good to us!
What are the benefits of Tencel?
Tencel is renowned for: its undeniable softness, holding dye, being a breathable fabric, enabling efficient moisture and helping temperature regulation. Due to its breathable properties and being less receptive to bacteria produced from perspiration, the material comes highly recommended as a useful fabric for activewear.
Should we all be buying Tencel products?
We definitely should! Tencel is proud to say that the fibres can “fully revert back to nature” as they are compostable and biodegradable. Of course, we do have to be aware that the soil could be contaminated by any dyes and embellishments that are on the fabrics produced by clothing brands. Also, the fact that chemical dyes are used in the manufacturing process does mean that Tencel is not organic. In essence, these fibres are made using more environmentally responsible processes than artificial fibres such as nylon and polyester and they deliver comfort and durability.
Keep your eyes peeled for Tencel fibres as they may be in more fabrics than you’re aware of!