Sustainable Clothing Fabrics for Fashion's Brighter Future

Sustainable Clothing Fabrics for Fashion's Brighter Future

In our blog division 'Sustainable Solutions in Fashion' we promote best practice for consumers and businesses in the apparel industry. Furthermore, we aim to inspire to collectively foster a brighter future for fashion and our planet.

Today, we will have a look at environmental-friendly fabrics and inspect their unique benefits. 

We will also learn about challenges of producing and processing the featured fabrics and what users should consider to feel confident. 

Delve into the world of innovative and sustainable fabrics emerging in the fashion industry, offering insights into their benefits and eco-friendliness, e.g. Biodegradable properties. 

What Means Biodegradable? Biodegradable, hereby fabrics, explains the capability of decomposing organically without causing harm (Cambridge Dictionary, 2024).


Showcasing Sustainable Fabrics 

Why is there a need for sustainable fabrics?

Most fashion consumers are not aware that their clothing is made by a mix of fibres mostly containing synethics. Common synthetic choices as such may be acrylic, nylon or polyester. (Woolmark, 2024)

Polyester for example has a range of negative effects on the environment alongside its complete production chain (Palacios-Mateo, Yvonne and Seide, 2021).


1. Organic Cotton



Benefits of organic cotton

Claiming the word 'organic' has legal bindings. This results in e.g. Cotton farms having to proof they are meeting standards set by their applicable government (Textile Exchange, 2024).

Growing cotton organically may improve the ecosystem that supports cotton production. By absorbing or lowering CO2 from the atmosphere, it also aids in carbon sequiestration. Compared to common chemical-fuelled production of cotton, the organic way also 91% less water in use, while there is 62% less energy required and more {...} (Nadiia Petar Bukhonka et al., 2023)


Challenges of organic cotton

In the above referenced link to Textile Exchange's website informing about the organic cotton certification, another detail caught our eye. Although, organic cotton farming has legal requirements, regulations chance once the earned cotton is exported from its farm. 

Companies have the freedom to adopt additional standards and meet compliance to foster a sustainable trade of organic cotton.

Producing cotton organically typically offers smaller yields and also increased prices (Nadiia Petar Bukhonka et al., 2023).


Environmental Aspects of Cotton Production


Organic Content Standard (OCS)

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Fairtrade Cotton: Such producers have proven to comply with standards called International Labour Organization (ILO). Furthermore, alongside this certification cotton manufacturing have to make an effort to improve their workers pay, enhance education on worker's rights and work conditions and encourage their business network (e.g. buyers) to engage in fair trading. 


    Recycling Organic Cotton




    2. Bamboo

    Benefits of Bamboo Fabrics/ Bamboo Clothing

    Singapore-based Baby & Kids Clothing Manufacturer OTEO remarks a list of benefits bamboo apparel has to offer:

    Apart from absorbing sweat, this farbic type also has antibacterial or anti-fungal characteristics. It also does not heat easily and allows the skin to breave while offering protection from UV rays. Furthermore, bamboo clothing lasts long, is sustainable and is known to be hypoallergenic. 

    A charity called Breast Cancer UK also comments online that bamboo holds the Guinness World Record among trees with the fastest growth rate (Breast Cancer UK, 2021; Munjal and Kashyap, 2015) 

    Leveraged growth of bamboo trees can reduce CO2 and furthermore produces significantly more oxygen than most alike trees. It is also a multifunctional source for clothing fabrics. If the fabric is not woven, it has similar charactistics compared to viscose (Munjal and Kashyap, 2015).  


    Environmental Concerns & Challenges of Bamboo Fabrics

    Although bamboo is an ideal solution for air pollution, the trees are mostly farmed before reaching their full potential (Yiping et al., 2010)

    Once the farmed bamboo enters the stage of clothing manufacturing, this is often where environmental issues start.

    The processing of bamboo to linen or rayon can involve heavy use of chemicals which challenges its sustainable aspects once the end product is advertised (CFDA, 2024).


    Standards & Certifications

    Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
    1. FSC Forest Management Certification 
    2. FSC Chain of Custody Certification (CoC)

    3. Hemp


    Benefits of Hemp Fabric

    Hemp is another plant-based option for fibres production that fuels the textile industry. 

    It is also used for oils, or food products apart from clothing.

    The capacity of hemp to thrive in an environment free of pesticides and herbicides, as well as its notable resilience to fungi, rodents and other types of weeds. Additionally, hemp is known to have a vast cultivation range, and variety of applications cases. Furthermore, over 30 nations are involved in the global trade of hemp (Ahmed et al., 2022)

    Ahmed et al (2022) also found that hemp shows a higher content of cellulose, sufficient hemicellulose and less lignin and pectin. 


    Challenges of Hemp Fibres

    The hemp plant originates from the Cannabis sativa, which is contains THC. THC, short for descriping tetrahydrocannabinol, is often used for medical, but also for recreative reasons due to its psychoactive effects.

    This compound, however, led to a restriction in many countries around the world. Even though the hemp species contains only a small proportion of this psychoactive ingredient, it is still subject to governmental regulations. Therefore, this proposes challenges for new businesses to enter markets involving the trade and use of hemp (CFDA, 2024).

    Due to the above mentioned levels of lignin and pectin in hemp, it is often involved to process cotton yarn to improve for example absorbability or anti-fungal strenghts in the final fabric (Ahmed et al., 2022)


    4. Algae


    {coming soon}


    5. Citrus Fruit



    {coming soon}




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