All About Natural Fibres: Insect and Plant
Fibres are for us, what makes a garment feel truly luxury. We use all natural materials in our products, but we're more than aware that natural doesn't always mean better. This is a quick rundown of some fibres that come from insects and plants, with a bit of information on their unique properties and why we choose, or choose not to use them in our collections.
Made from the cocoon of the silk worm, pure silk is long strong fibre with incredible shine. Most people are familiar with silk as woven material, but its shine lends itself beautifully to delicate knitted designs too.
Silk noil is often called raw silk, but this is something of a misnomer. Noil is a term used to describe the short fibres left after the carding process, a process that both wool and silk go through before being spun. These short fibres don't have the same lustre and strength as traditional silk, but do give a wonderfully textural quality to the material. We love this fibre for our earthy designs, because of it's unique drape and little flecks and nubs.
Cotton is a soft and fluffy fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant as a kind of protective casing. It's versatile in its uses, from fine shirting material, through to heavy duty twines, it takes dye readily and is used all around the globe. However it is an incredibly thirsty plant and in order to obtain a good yield, often harsh pesticides and fertilisers are used. The Aral Sea crisis is one such example of the devastation that water intensive farming can have on the planet. In brief, the sea was irrigated to water the cotton plants to such an extent that it has all but dried up, leaving vast uninhabitable salt flats in its wake. For this reason we choose not to include any cotton (organic or otherwise) in our collections, but fear not, the next fibre on the list is a great substitute!
Linen is made from the flax plant, a hardy crop that will grow in almost any conditions. Fibres are pulled from the stem of the plant and can be up to 20cm in length, making it a very strong and lustrous fibre, three times stronger than cotton. It's natural heat and water wicking ability alongside its antimicrobial properties make it the perfect summer material.
Other Plant Based Fibres
It would be impossible to make a list of all of the plant based fibres that are available, so we've stuck to the major ones. However there are three particular fibres that we feel deserve an honourable mention, so we've included a snippet about each of these included below.
Bamboo - Fast growing, pest resistant and not at all thirsty, this relatively modern fibre could be the cotton of the future. It is soft, self replenishing and surprisingly affordable.
Ramie - Made from the stems of nettles, ramie is a lustrous and strong fibre, not dissimilar to linen. Nettles will thrive in almost any conditions, making this an excellent choice for the environmentally aware.
Lyocell - often called Tencel. This fibre is made from the wood pulp of the eucalyptus tree, it has beautiful drape and softness and is manufactured in a 'closed loop' process, meaning that all chemicals used in the making of the material are recovered and reused indefinitely.
That brings us to the end of this whistle stop tour of plant and insect based fibres. Next week there'll be a blog all about animal fibres!