Natural vs. Synthetic: Fibers of the World
We live in an age where everything is fast paced and more efficient than ever. Most of us are managing jobs, kids, houses, hobbies and even businesses. With some many different daily tasks at hand, your time is precious. When it comes to clothing there is no one size fits all, but there are ways to buy garments that can make your daily routines a little less strenuous.
As a business owner, a student, full time employee, home owner, and a dog mom, time is extremely important for me to keep up with my daily tasks and then to go home and take care of the routine house keeping. One way that I minimize the amount of time I spend doing daily chores like laundry is by being smart when I buy clothing by paying attention to the fiber content.
There are many different styles of clothing that use different fibers to make different woven or knitted fabrics. The combination of fiber and construction essentially give you different properties for each fabrics. Knowing the main fibers and their properties will give you a great basis for making sound buying decisions.
Natural fibers are renewable resources provided by plants or animals. The extraction of these fibers, if done humanely, provides jobs to thousands of people around the globe in the second leading industry on the planet. Natural fibers are used because they biologically withstand many environmental variances. See below for common natural fibers and their properties.
Cotton is the most popular natural fiber world wide. Cotton is made of pure cellulose.
Wool has limited supply because it is grown on animals including sheep, alpaca, and angora rabbits. Wool is often used in high quality knits.
Flax is a vegetable fiber, so all those veggies you didn't eat in the past have found a use!
Hemp has exploding opportunities with the discovery of "cottonization" of this fiber.
Silk was invented in Ancient China. The silk fiber is the secretion of silk worms that is collected and then spun and woven into a luxurious fabric.
Cashmere is soft to the touch and is insulting without being bulky.
Synthetic fibers start as chemicals such as coal or petroleum and are processed and made into threads. Synthetic fibers are often less expensive to produce, are abrasion resistant and easy to care for. This is especially appealing to ready to wear designers. See below for common synthetic fibers and their properties.
Acrylic can be used as artificial wool. It has high resistance to chemicals, biological factors and sunlight degradation. Acrylic does not absorb water, is lightweight and strong.
Polyester is the most popular synthetic fiber because of its low costs, abrasion resistance, it does not absorb water and dries quickly.
Rayon is known as artificial silk. Rayon has a luxurious luster to it, but can be harder to care for. Rayon loses strength when it is wet and can easily stretch and shrink.
Acetate is fast drying and mold resistant. Although acetate is shrink resistant and wrinkle resistant, it does not withstand sunlight well.
Now you try!
Author: Erica Becker, Creative Director.