The Greening of Apparel
Every year there seem to be more and more high-tech fabrics available in the apparel market. While
these advances have created some incredible garments for both the retail and promotional markets,
there is a growing demand for natural and renewable fabrics. While cotton remains king, a number of
alternative fabrics have become increasingly popular with consumers. What’s surprising is that many
of these fabrics not only have a feel that is comparable to cotton, but they are naturally imbued with
characteristics found in many high-tech fabrics. Here are a few of the most popular and potentially
rewarding new kinds.
Bamboo pulp can be converted into fibers to create fabric that is extra-soft and very durable. Its
natural properties make it antimicrobial, UV resistant and breathable. Bamboo requires no pesticides
to grow, and is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. The bamboo used for fabric is
commonly known as Moso and can reach a mature height of 75 feet in just 45 to 60 days.
Fabric is created when dextrose pulled from corn is fermented to produce lactic acid, which is
converted to fabric once the water is removed. Corn-based fabric has excellent moisture-wicking
properties, UV resistance and low odor retention. It’s also stain resistant, experiences minimal
shrinkage and pilling, and is biodegradable and compostable.
Three times stronger than cotton and easy to grow, hemp does not require fertilizer or pesticides. It's
also antimicrobial, UV resistant and breathable. It’s not as soft as cotton, but in a blend it can add
durability to a garment.
The only difference between organic cotton and standard cotton is that organic cotton is grown
without the use of pesticides or chemical additives. It is also grown in soil that has been chemical free
for at least three years. Several levels of organic cotton exist, and each presents low impact to the
Made from the by-products of soybean crops. This fabric has a soft, smooth hand, and contains
natural antibacterial agents. It has the same moisture-absorption properties as cotton, but with
better moisture transmission, for drier, more comfortable garments.
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