An Introduction to Tencel: The Eco-Friendly Fabric
Thought are a small clothing business who are making big changes in the fashion world. Their collections are investments for your wardrobe, which will last years and years, rather than cheap pieces of fast fashion. Their prints are commissioned and created exclusively for them, so you can rest assured that you won’t meet your match every day on the street!
Thought’s ‘force of nature fabrics’ are a huge part of what makes them unique; including sustainable fabrics such as Organic Cotton, Bamboo and Tencel. Today, we’re shining our spotlight on the latter, and finding out everything we need to know about Tencel from Sadia, Thought’s Technical and Sustainability Coordinator.
Why is Tencel Good?
There are many reasons to love Tencel; firstly, it’s absorbent, smooth, cool and silky soft with a beautiful drape and sophisticated handle. It’s also simple to launder, strong when wet, and has been developed to be wrinkle resistant, much more than its cotton counterparts, making it the ideal fabric to pop into your suitcase when travelling.
Not only is Tencel a great fabric to wear, it’s also an environmentally friendly option; in fact, its manufacturing process has earned it the highly prestigious European Union’s ‘European Award for the Environment’.
Due to its minimal impact on the environment, Tencel is increasingly the fabric of choice for a conscious shopper. Cleverly made from sustainably sourced wood, Tencel is a third generation, cellulosic fibre, which may sound complicated, but simply means that it’s plant-based and always being improved.
How is Tencel Made?
You already know that Tencel is made from trees, but how is it transformed from a piece of nature into your favourite item in your wardrobe?
The raw material for Tencel is sourced from trees grown in sustainable plantations and on land that is unsuitable for agricultural cultivation. Once it has been harvested, the wood is processed into chips, pulped and dried into sheets ready for processing.
The sheets are then broken up and dissolved in a non-toxic amine oxide solution, turning into a clear, viscous liquid. The long Tencel fibres are created by forcing this liquid through spinnerets dotted with tiny holes. These are then set in a bath of dilute amine oxide solution before being washed in demineralised water.
Once completely dry, the fibres are lubricated and carded (or combed) to remove any tangles, before being compressed using a crimper to add bulk and texture. The fibres are then ready to be dyed, spun and woven to make beautiful, sustainable garments, which will last you season upon season.
The entire manufacturing process to produce Tencel takes just two hours. The process is practically a ‘closed loop’ system, with approximately 98% of the amine oxide solvent recaptured and recycled back through the process, adding to the sustainability of the fabric. All of which is great news for the environment, now and for future generations.
If you like the sound of Thought’s Tencel range and would like to have a look in more detail at their eye-catching wardrobe essentials, see our Thought clothing collection.
If you found this article interesting, you may like to read our Q&A with Thought co-founder, Rachel Kelly, where we discussed all things slow, ethical fashion and found out a little bit more about this forward-thinking and innovative brand.