For me ethical fashion isn’t just about paying the people you made your clothes fairly (although that is very important) it’s also about caring for the environment. A big part of reducing the environmental impact of your clothes is thinking about what they are made from. I’ve found myself looking for natural materials for my clothing since switching to ethical fashion. Personally, I enjoy wearing natural materials over man-made and they also tend to be the more sustainable option (obviously like everything there will be exceptions to this).
However, with so many different materials out there, it can be confusing to know which ones are sustainable. With this in mind, I’ve created a new category here on The Sustainable Edit looking at sustainable materials. I’m starting off looking at Tencel. Tencel has gained popularity recently and is now a very common material in ethical fashion.
Tencel is actually a brand name for a type of material made from lyocell. It is a luxury cellulose fibre made from wood pulp.
Tencel starts is life as trees grown in responsibly managed forests. There are no pesticides, fungicides or herbicides used just good old fashion rain water to help the trees grow. Once the trees are cut down they are chipped. The wood chips are then made into a pulp and blended with water and solvent to make a pure white cellulose fibre – Tencel.
Tencel production is a closed loop system with the solvent being recycled over and over again. The only inputs to the process are water and wood pulp with the only outputs being water and Tencel. This makes Tencel a very eco-friendly fibre. In fact, Lenzing AG (the makers of Tencel) has been awarded the European Award for the Environment by the EU. Tencel requires less energy and water than cotton making it the more eco-friendly option.
Tencel is 50% more absorbent than cotton. It’s also more breathable and less susceptible to odorous bacteria grow. This makes it ideal for activewear. As well as being more absorbent than cotton Tencel is described as softer than silk and cooler than linen.
“with a softer,smoother finish than cotton, it hangs and clings differently, allowing for improved drape and different fit”
The trousers I’m wearing in these pictures are made from 100% Tencel and I would describe them as the perfect combination of cotton and silk. They have the beautiful softness of silk but with the easy wear of cotton. They have a gorgeous drape which you wouldn’t get with cotton but unlike silk, you can wash them at home.
Trousers – Thought Clothing (exact)
Wrap – Thought Clothing (sold out – similar)
Cami – River Island (old – similar)
Sandals – Zara (old – similar)