Fabric creates items we use every day, clothing, bedding, and bags, the fabric that has been chosen can make or break our beloved pieces. A piece made well that uses better quality materials is better for our purse and the planet.
There are many fabrics that have stood the test of time because they produce superior garments that look and feel great for a long time. Here, we discuss four timeless fashion materials, what makes them so enduring, and how some have even had sustainable upgrades.
Cotton has stood the test of time when it comes to its use as a fashion material. The earliest cotton garments were found in Mexico and were discovered to be over 7,000 years old. To this day, 100% cotton is considered to be a premium material for clothes, accessories, and furnishings.
The fabric became popular among the middle and upper classes in Europe because it was easy to dye and wash. Nowadays, we appreciate cotton’s breathability, comfort, and durability. We see it used in everything from classic cotton tees to dresses, and its versatility means it can be woven into multiple textures. High thread-count cotton sheets are seen as the height of luxury when it comes to bedding.
Few fabrics are known for being as luxurious as silk. It’s estimated to have existed since before 3000 BCE with its origins in China. It was long associated with royalty and wealth and was used by the Han dynasty to give as gifts and appease nomads with luxury items.
In modern times, silk is often used for wedding dresses, high-end accessories, and luxurious nightwear – but it’s definitely not limited to these items. Its glossy sheen and sumptuous texture mean that silk items look just as opulent as their price tag.
Recently, silk has been gaining attention as a material that’s good for our hair and skin. Its smooth, slip texture means it doesn’t wick away moisture from our skin and hair, so many people have been using silk pillowcases and scrunchies and swearing by them.
An under-the-radar hero, viscose is thought to be the third most popular fabric in the world. It may not have its name in lights, but it’s a well-used textile that has many benefits. It’s a more recent innovation than its counterparts on this list, but it’s on track to become a truly timeless garment material.
Viscose is a plant-based fibre that is used as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic-based fabrics. In recent years, concerns over the manufacturing process of viscose have been raised, and so a more sustainable version was born: LENZING ECOVERO. It has a lower carbon footprint due to the sourcing of the wood and each stage of its supply chain is traceable.
One of the key benefits of sustainable viscose is that it’s airy and lightweight, making it perfect for floaty dresses and lighter summer outfits. While these garments will last you a lifetime, if you need to throw them away, they’re completely biodegradable.
Another more recent introduction into the textile game, polyester has been used almost ubiquitously since the first true polyester fibre, terylene, was introduced in 1941. Polyester has remained popular with manufacturers due to its availability and affordability but has had questions raised about its sustainability.
Fashion brands are addressing their credentials in sustainability, now more than ever, and are incorporating polyester into their collections in eco-conscious ways. Recycled polyester is becoming a more popular material for items like durable bags and helps to create a reduced-waste circular economy. Often, it’s made from recycled plastic bottles and other single-use items but can also refer to waste textiles.
Recycled polyester is great for items that need to be durable and weatherproof, including handbags, backpacks, and activewear. The latter, in particular, has seen significantly increased interest in sustainable production, with consumers looking to be more green with their clothing purchases.
Some of the fabrics we know and love in our wardrobes have truly stood the test of time, like cotton and silk. Others are newer to the market but have encouraged a shift to more sustainable practices and are set to rule the industry in the long term. For a varied and timeless wardrobe, make sure you incorporate these materials.