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Fabric Guide : What You Need To Know About Lyocell, Tencel & Modal

Fabric Guide : What You Need To Know About Lyocell, Tencel & Modal

How much do you know about the textile fibres that are popular right now; such as lyocell, Modal and Tencel? They’re all considered to be sustainable materials, all made from the same natural raw material, wood, but they each have their own unique properties. Without getting too technical we wanted to provide you with some more information about the differences between these materials, and look at how sustainable they actually are.

Viscose Twill Fabric

What is Lyocell?

One of the main advantages of lyocell fabric, compared to other types of rayon, is that its production requires fewer hazardous chemicals. Its eco-friendly production methods make it a much better option for those who are concerned about the environment.

Viscose Lawn, Delilah

The process for producing lyocell is a closed-loop system, meaning less water and fewer chemicals are used. Additionally, the process is more energy efficient and produces fewer by-products than other rayon fabric production methods. This makes lyocell fabric a much more sustainable option than other types of rayon.

It's worth noting that not all Lyocell fabrics are manufactured using the closed loop process. Currently, only TENCEL™ Lyocell can guarantee that the production process was closed loop; so if you're buying an unbranded lyocell fabric, bear in mind that it may not have gone through this procedure.

What is Tencel?

What is Tencel - Blog Image FEB 2023

The most popular brand of lyocell is Tencel; Tencel Lyocell fibres are known for their comfort and versatility, as they can be mixed with different types of textiles such as cotton, polyester, acrylic, wool, and silk to create dress fabrics that are both stylish and functional. The fibres also provide excellent strength, absorb moisture well, and are very gentle on the skin.

Today you'll find that most Tencel and Modal fabrics are manufactured by the Austrian company Lenzing – an established industry leader in creating sustainable fabrics.

What is Modal Fabric?

Lenzings own Tencel Modal fabrics are made out of certified bio-based fibres and produced through an environmentally friendly production process. Made primarily from beech tree, Modal fabrics are more durable and flexible than viscose fabrics due to their higher fibre strength when wet. Modal jersey fabric is particularly soft, durable and an incredible fabric to wear.

Modal - Lyocell and Viscose Blog February 2023 2

(pictured Mode Blue & Green Fabrics)

What We Love About Lyocell

  • Has an eco-friendly production method
  • Super absorbent - perfect for active-wear
  • Produced using a closed-loop system - meaning less water and fewer chemicals
  • Very soft and strong
  • They are breathable and temperature regulating – great for humid climates
  • Quick and efficient to manufacture as well as using less energy to produce

The Drawbacks of Lyocell

  • Can be a bit more expensive than other fabrics
  • Vulnerable to green washing – be careful where you buy
  • Can be delicate especially when it comes to ironing (but this is counteracted by the knowledge that a lot of lyocell fabrics have anti-wrinkle properties)
  • Lyocell is only truly sustainable when sourced from managed forests 

To round all this up, all you really need to know is Tencel lyocell is more eco-friendly than other materials, but not as sustainable as higher-grade fabrics such as organic linen or recycled cotton. In comparison to cotton, the production of Tencel requires 20% less water. Furthermore, it is completely biodegradable, taking only three months to decompose without leaving toxins behind in the environment.

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