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Our 5-minute guide to choosing sustainable fabrics

Sustainability and fashion: a hot topic that can make us feel lost. And it all starts with the garment’s fabric. Luckily, many brands are becoming increasingly transparent about their production methods and the materials that they use, but even then, it remains a complicated subject. Because the sustainability of a fabric, depends on an infinite number of factors. Then how do we make the right decision? Some fabrics score high on environmental friendly scale, but wear out faster and some fabrics leave a bigger ecological footprint, but last a lifetime. What’s more important? We’ll provide you with the know-how you need to make well-considered choices, so quickly read on. 
This Denham dress contains cupro, which is often referred to as the vegan alternative for silk. Cupro is made from the (left-over) seads from the cotton plant yet needs chemicals to transform into reconstituted fibers. Nevertheless once manufactured, the fabric is completely biodegradable and the production waste is almost 100% recycled.
The pros and cons of the most commonly used fabrics 
Providing a list of raw materials from least to most sustainable is practically impossible. Every material has its advantages and disadvantages. A fiber can come from a vegetable (cotton), animal (wool) or artificial (lyocell) source. People often think: the more natural the material, the smaller the impact on the environment. But that’s not always correct! Natural fabrics often need lots of water and chemicals and are less easy to recycle than materials such as polyester, which in their turn contribute to the plastic soup. Difficulty choosing? Consult the schedule below and determine what’s most important to you.  

 
Raw MaterialsProsCons
CottonBiodegradable, low CO2 emissionsRequires much land & water consumption, high use of chemicals, limited lifespan
WoolBiodegredable, durable, self-cleaning so requires less washingRequires much land, high greenhouse gas emissions, high use of chemicals
PolyesterExtremely durable, requires no land or waterPlastic soup, high use of energy, high consumption of fossil raw materials
Lyocell/TencelCircular production process, biodegradable, made from renewable raw materialsProcessing the wood into a usable material takes a lot of energy
LinenBiodegradable, grows quickly so less land is needed, strong fiberLabor-intensive process, more difficult to recycle
ViscoseBiodegradable, made from renewable raw materialsRequires high use of chemicals
The best choice? Recycled materials! 
Whatever the raw material is, nothing is as sustainable as a recycled fabric. If you want your clothes to eventually be recycled again, remember that pure fabrics – 100% cotton for example – or artificial fabrics such as polyester are the easiest to recycle without loss of quality. Filippa K gratefully uses recycled materials for their collections that all revolve around a timeless and durable style. At Matt & Nat we also see innovation in recycling; they use recycled PET bottles for their stylish vegan leather bags.  
 
Items made from recycled materials
Think about what role the garment will have in your wardrobe 
Now it’s time to weigh up all these factors. Our advice? Shop consciously! By investing in slow-fashion styles that are durable and timeless, you are already shopping sustainably. We even dare to say that this way of shopping – regardless of the material – has less environmental impact than buying a recycled T-shirts that you dispose of after wearing it three times.  So, think about the garment’s purpose. Will that specific item contribute to your wardrobe essentials collection? Then choose durable fabrics. Is it a trend item that you expect to wear only one season? Then choose sustainable fabrics such as lyocell, organic cotton or recycled materials.  
Timeless essentials
Sustainable trend items
Do you want to learn more about sustainability and fashion? Discover ‘7 tips for building a sustainable wardrobe’ and ‘3 brands to make your wardrobe more sustainable’.  



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