A Sustainable Solution: Tencel
“Cheap fashion is really far from that. It may be cheap in terms of the financial cost, but very expensive when it comes to the environment and the cost of human life” - Sass Brown, fashion educator and author
Searching for the right fabrics made in a sustainable way is a big conscious step in our journey to becoming as sustainable as we can be. With each collection we do our best to seek out ways in which we can produce in an eco-friendly way, bring fresh designs to all of you while also introducing a green fashion option you may not have considered or known about before. Tencel is one of our latest additions to our range of sustainable fabrics we design with!
The fabric is not all that new, in fact it was first created in the 1980s in the UK and has since become known as a sustainable solution and option within fashion - although not as widely known as we would like it to be. In this instalment of ‘Know Your Fabrics’ we’ll tell you how it’s the better, greener option and why we love it so much!
What is Tencel?
Tencel is a little more complicated than you may think. The name is actually a brand that encompasses a set of fibres known as lyocell and modal. They are most known for being super soft and being similar to rayon. Rayon is a “regenerated cellulose” fibre meaning it’s created by taking wood pulp, dissolving it in a chemical solvent, then pushed through an extruder to create the fibres.Similarly, Tencel also derives from wood, however, the trees it comes from are harvested in sustainably managed plantations and the chemicals used to create the fibres are less toxic as well as continually recycled in the process so there’s much less waste.
Who are The Lenzing Group?
In our big, sprawling world, replicating sustainable systems in different places can be difficult and so The Lenzing Group regulates and certifies Tencel production around the world.
Founded in 1938, the institution mainly “produces wood-based viscose fibers, modal fibres, lyocell fibers and filament yarn, which are used in the textile industry - in clothing, home textiles and technical textiles - as well as in the nonwovens industry. In addition, the company is active in mechanical and plant engineering.”
Our own Tencel, used in a variety of pieces, is certified by them.
How is Tencel produced and what are its properties?
As mentioned, the process of creating Tencel is closely managed. In these controlled plantations, every resource is used efficiently so that excess is avoided at all times. This results in a minimally wasteful process that fully considers their impact on the environment by only using what’s needed.
When it comes to the properties of the fabric, the fabric is incredible in it’s own ways:
- Antibacterial - the fabric absorbs moisture efficiently which ultimately means that less moisture exists on its surface making it more difficult for bacteria to grow.
- Thermal regulation - another benefit that comes from the fabric absorbing moisture is that it is able to naturally adjust to your body temperature. The fabric is then able to keep you cool and dry all day long.
- Colour retention - the fibres are able to deeply absorb their dyes and are able to keep their colour and vibrancy after many repeated washes. As slow fashion advocates, we should be looking to obtain pieces that can last us a lifetime so this property helps us do just that.
- Strength - Tencel fibres are also incredibly durable also giving it long-lasting quality.
What are the green benefits of Tencel?
It’s evident that Tencel has many sustainable attributes but to put things more in perspective, here are the actual outcomes that come from how they are processed and how the fabric functions.
It’s conscious process leads to an enormous reduction of waste - a problem our fashion industry suffers from immensely due to mass production and inefficient waste systems. This also leads to a lower carbon footprint as resources aren’t processed in excess ways.
Deriving fibres from wood pulp means we are not producing fibres and fabrics that are toxic and fatal to our environment and wildlife, but are actually biodegradable.
Owning a Tencel piece means you’re investing in a long lasting piece that will stand the test of time. This, we would hope, leads to buying less, choosing better, wasting less, and encouraging others to also invest more consciously!
How has Sui used Tencel in recent collections?
We introduced Tencel with our 2020 summer collection, ‘Tropical Sunshine’, so you will find many pieces that make use of this breezy fabric.
Some of our favourite Tencel pieces include the Hibiscusy Summer dress, Sunny Orchid top, and The Strait trousers.
We also recently released Tencel crafted masks of which 10% of their sales go to our artisan and craft teams to further support them!
(Seen here are the Hibscusy, Monstera Me and Naturally Tropaholic masks)
How do you take care of Tencel?
We recommend hand washing the pieces separately at room temperature or machine wash in gentle cycle using mild detergents only. Dry them away from direct sunlight and do not bleach or scrub them. Always iron the fabric inside out at medium temperature.This all further ensures that the colours last a long time so that the pieces will stay your friend for years and years.
We hope this gave you new insight into how you can make your wardrobe even greener and show you that there so many ways we can all take steps and choose better!