Know your Fabrics
We’re reducing our fashion consumption over here at Stay Wild Swim. Thankfully we’ve got our swimwear sorted for Summer (hello new collection), but despite your best efforts at buying second hand, or not buying at all, you might find yourself in the market for a white T shirt because you accidentally dyed yours pink in the wash, or a dress for a friend’s wedding that you haven’t already been photographed in a zillion times.
Before we get into our round up of more ethical fabrics, obviously the most sustainable method of obtaining something new is to buy second hand or rent, but when that’s not an option it’s good to arm yourself with the facts about which materials to go for when you do your shopping - even if you’re shopping from a sustainable brand, there’s still a lot to be said for basing your final decisions on what fabrics have been used.
Of course, first up is the incredible ECONYL® fabric that we make our stunning swimwear pieces from. You’d be forgiven for thinking that ECONYL® was the brand name, but it actually just refers to the raw material fabric itself. We have a post on our blog all about how it’s made, but in short, the raw materials are fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring and industrial plastic from landfill and oceans. Then, through a pioneering and radical regeneration process, which is the product of 4 years hard work and research from the founding company, the nylon waste is regenerated back to its original purity meaning that ECONYL® regenerated nylon is the exact same purity as virgin nylon. One of the huge benefits of ECONYL® nylon is that it can be recycled infinitely, without ever losing its quality.
Tencel is made from eucalyptus trees growing in Australia and Indonesia. The great thing about eucalyptus trees is that they are strong plants and don’t need any pesticides or fertilisers sprayed on them, just a little water. The trees grow on land that would have otherwise gone to ‘waste’ as it’s unsuitable for agricultural development. The wood pulp from the eucalyptus trees requires no chemical processing and a study by the University of Leipzig in 2008 reported that the process consumes ten to twenty times less water than would be used in the production of an equivalent amount of cotton.
Linen is a natural textile made from flax fibres and is particularly suited to hot weather as its so breathable. Linen is having a bit of a moment, fashion wise, which from an environmental point of view is great - it’s even the new Egyptian Cotton of the bedsheet world. The flax plant is hardy and strong and can be grown in harsh conditions. It also requires far less water than cotton. There is also very little waste during the linen production process as pretty much all of the plant is used, and where it’s not the by products are thing like linseed oil and to make varnishes for wood.
Hemp, like flax, can be grown in very rough conditions and doesn’t need that much care of affection. It ha a very high yield, grows quickly and produces more fibre than flax or cotton as a result. The fabric it makes is really strong and durable, so it can be used for a wide range of products from shoes and bags to clothing. the by products are also usable as food sources - hemp seeds and hemp oil.
It’s well documented these day that the growing of non-organic cotton is incredibly toxic and dangerous for those tending to the crops, and also to the health of the soil. This is because of the vast amounts of chemicals that are sprayed onto the plants in order for them to thrive and give a high yield. Organic cotton mean safer working conditions for the people that harvest it and less damage on the environment. It uses less water than non-organic cottons but still more than hemp and flax and eucalyptus.
Bring on the espadrilles! Jute is a very tough fabric, much tougher than cotton, and as such is used for carpets, bags and everyone’s fave summer shoe - the humble espadrille. It biodegrades easily, grows very quickly and doesn’t need chemical pesticides to grown.