Eco-fabrics are a huge deal in local design and fashion right now. Keeping track of all the new, (and not-so-new) materials can sometimes be a little confusing .
(Meemoza Barcelona dress 100% Tencel)
Looking at tags is a great way to familiarize yourself with your buying choices, however, if you don't recognize the name of the fabric, you won't feel very informed. Here is a basic guide to some of the most popular "eco-fabrics" out there, and some of their greatest qualities.
Lyocell/ Tencel/ Modal:
They are basically the same thing! Lyocell is the generic name, while Tencel is the brand name of this popular new fabric. Modal is a very similar fabric. Made from wood pulp, it is a new type of rayon. It is soft, absorbent, wrinkle resistant, and easy to care for.
It can also take a myriad of forms and look like many other fabrics, including denim, silk, leather, and suede. Lyocell is biodegradable and can be recycled, and because in its processing there is no bleaching, less water used, fewer chemical emissions, and less energy consumed, it is a much more sustainable choice than many conventional fabrics.
These fabrics nearly never shrink, and barely fade or pill, so they last longer, and create less waste. Lines like Meemoza, Jennifer Glasgow Design, Les Enfants Sauvages, Atelier .b., carry clothing in these fabrics.
(Jennifer Glasgow Priscilla dress in Rayon from Bamboo)
A very popular eco fabric, bamboo grows incredibly fast, is almost endlessly self-sustaining, and plentiful, and doesn't require pesticides to survive and thrive.
Bamboo creates gracefully draping, ultra soft fabric. It also mixes beautifully with more traditional fabrics like spandex to create extra comfortable clothing, undergarments, workout wear, and bedding.
We have bamboo derived garments from Jennifer Glasgow Design, Meemoza, Spruce, and more.
Hemp is an incredible resource, because it's growth requires no pesticides.
It's versatility as a fiber is nearly unparallelled and it can be manipulated into anything from strong tough materials (i.e. rope), to soft, thin, highly breathable dresses.
(Jennifer Glasgow Sigrid dress in Hemp)
Some of the most charming dresses and skirts in Jennifer Glasgow Design's Spring/ Summer 2012 line are made of hemp.
Traditional polyester is a petroleum byproduct and is basically the complete antithesis of eco-friendly.
However, there are new polyesters cropping up that are made from recycled plastics (think water bottles), and recycled traditional polyester fabrics.
Eco-polyester is as versatile as its traditional (oil derived) predecessor, without the negative environmental and political implications.
Traditional cotton is often heavily treated with pesticides. Organic cotton is still cotton, it's just not chemically treated.
Commonly thought to exist only in unbleached, natural forms, organic cotton now comes in all manner of colors and finishes.
Silk/ Peace Silk
Silk is, of course, an old classic. Inherently natural because it comes directly from the silk worm, it is an animal product and is not worn or used by most vegans because of the common practice of boiling the worms to retrieve the silk. Peace Silk, or cruelty-free silk, is now being produced by collecting the discarded silk created by the worm once it has already left to become a lovely flying thing.
This process is 100% cruelty free, but, because it is so meticulous, peace silk tends to be extremely expensive. Even traditional silk has a very small environmental footprint. Warm in winter, and cool in summer, silk is breathable, beautiful, and incredibly tough.
Linen is made from flax which requires few to no pesticides to grow. It is strong, breathable, and lasting, so it's innate quality is also an eco feature.
We have a huge variety of linen clothing at General 54 right now from lines like Jennifer Glasgow, Dagg and Stacey, and Birds of North America.
(Birds of North America Swan skirt in Linen)
Hopefully, this sheds a little light on many of the friendlier fabrics available. It`s also important to remember that a locally made product is most always much more environmentally sound than something produced overseas. General 54 carries only high quality Canadian made products, and our designers strive to use at least some recycled materials, repurposed jewels, or eco friendly fabrics.