Man made Tencel
Looking for Eco Friendly Fashion?
Consider Clothing Made From Tencel
Tencel is a soft, luxurious, drapey, man made fabric that was developed in the 1980’s and first became available to consumers in 1991.
My first experience with tencel was on a shopping trip a few years ago when I came across a pair of pants that had such a soft wonderful feel to them, I had to try them on. They had a smooth drape and elegant line that looked great and felt nice.
Knowing that the manmade fabrics used by the fashion industry are usually not the most eco friendly, I wanted to learn about tencel.
It’s Made from Lyocell
Lyocell is the actual name of the fabric but it is marketed under the brand name Tencel. This rayon-like fabric comes from trees, actually the wood pulp cellulose of trees. Cellulose is the natural polymer found in the cells of all plants in this case hardwood trees. So lyocell is a manmade fabric from natural fibers and it’s biodegradeable.
There are only a few manufacturing plants around the world that make Lyocell. They use trees grown on managed tree farms and usually use a mix of oak and birch. The wood pulp of these trees is mixed with a non-toxic amine solvent which creates a solution called dope.
This dope is forced into a spinneret to form fibers. These fibers are washed and 99.6% of the solvents are retrieved and recycled during the process, not released into the environment. This practice uses less water and energy than other manmade fibers making it fairly eco-friendly.
The Cleanest Cellulose Fiber
Some of the largest manufacturers offer an Ecotex Standard 100 safety label, one of several independant test certifications. The fabrics are examined during the production process to look for toxic substances. This certification ensures product safety.
Tencel won the European Union Environmental Award 2000 for “technology for sustainable development”.
Is Tencel For You?
Some of the environmental benefit of this fabric is lost when this fabric is made into clothing and toxic chemicals are used to dye and finish it but this is a problem for any fiber even organic ones. In many instances you can find info on a company website about how the fabric was dyed or finished. Well, let me say any company website that is interested being eco friendly.
I found the fabric to be easy to wash and care for, wrinkles seem to fall out. Great for travel or if you’re like me and hate to iron.
It is similar to rayon in feel but rayon is created with a more complicated and chemically laden process. Plus, rayon can be a fussier fabric needing dry cleaning or a more time consuming hand washing and drying process.
It can be found in all types of clothing from jackets to underwear and is often blended with other fabrics. It can be a bit pricey but you may find it’s well worth the extra cost for a long lasting, easy to care for material which just gets softer with each washing.
Where To Shop
While tencel clothing can be found at many stores online, it’s such an easy care fabric it can often be found in stores that specialize in travel attire.
Below are a few other places to look. As you shop look for clothes that can be machine washed, so much better for the environment than dry cleaning.
Zona Clothes designs and sews their own clothing. The skirt and shirt above are just two examples of the different styles available.
Soft Surroundings carries beautifully styled shirts and pants.
Tianello offers fun and stylish clothing. Designs here for women and men. Available in plus sizes too.
It’s a great feel good fabric, perfect for a wash and go lifestyle. Along with a few other man made fabrics it might make a good addition to a natural living lifestyle.