Petroleum-based textiles like nylon and polyester can contribute to plastic waste and that’s not the kind of killer look any of us is striving for, right? While you’re making the switch from plastic to paper straws, make some smart outfit choices too. So, next time you’re indulging in some retail therapy, start reading labels and keep an eye out for these sustainable fabrics:
Just like fruits and vegetables, cotton can also be grown organically with minimal impact on the environment, using no chemicals and pesticides. No genetically modified seeds to be seen here. This fabric is perfect for spring, summer and a fair bit of fall. And as innerwear during the colder months. Check out douspeakgreen to get a starter outfit.
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant (don’t get too excited - it doesn’t have the magical effects cannabis is famous for). It’s specially grown for its fibres and can be used to produce to paper and rope, in addition to fabric. Its natural air conditioning, breathability and durability make it a fabulous choice. Check our brands like Bombay Hemp Company, Patagonia and Hempest for some of the most chic hemp attire.
Jute is made using vegetable fibre and is commonly used for saris, beach bags, flip flops, accessories like belts and more recently, sliders, espadrilles and billowy dresses and shirts. Jute can have a very bohemian, rustic look (think barn weddings) and looks lovely in shades of ivory and beige. Taupes, mustards and greens are also gaining popularity. Here’s a peek into what jute looks like.
A popular fabric in India, khadi was popularised during the freedom movement in order to boycott foreign cloth. It's a natural, hand-woven or hand-spun fabric and was traditonally made using a spinning wheel. The coolest part about it? It keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. Magic? Sort of. It's most commonly made from cotton but wool and silk are strong contenders too. You can do a lot with khadi: Indian and westernwear alike. Want to own your own? Check out iwearkhadi, khadination and brands like Jaypore.
And you thought bamboo was just for pandas? Bamboo can be used for anything from accessories, footwear to yoga pants! The fabric comes out surprisingly soft. You can even make beanie caps with it. Or robes, towels and socks. Don't believe it? Take a look at Bamboo Clothing and Bamboo Clothes.
This one, as you all know, is reserved solely for winters. If you manage to get your hands on 100% wool clothing, chances are you won't need any outerwear. This can keep you warm to the point of sweating (not talking to you, folks living in Finland and other snow-covered countries). Buy these from anywhere in the hills (or the mall if you're going to be mainstream) and face winter head-on.
Linen is one of my personal favourite materials, especially to subsitute jeans with in the summer. A few pairs of billowy, linen pants and tank tops is all anyone ever really needs. This one's a great option as resortwear; for men too. Think Leo Di Caprio on a yacht in Wolf Of Wall Street.
The downside of linen is that it crushes oh-so-easily so you can't be planning a fancy soiree after a day of work, in the same clothes. Cotton World, Linen Club and Fabindia are some brands you can start with.
These are the fabrics which have made it to mainstream fashion but there are lots more waiting to get a little bit of the limelight. Think coffee ground fibres, banana fibres, nettle fibres, lotus fibres and even pineapple fabric. Can’t wait to own the day in all our pinery!
Photo credit: Bamboo Clothing.
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