Make a switch to natural fibre clothing

What do you consider when buying new clothing? Appearance? How about comfort and fit? Do you ever take the fabric into consideration? Choosing natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, wool and silk, can help reduce the toxic burden synthetic fibres have on yourself and the environment.

Chemically treated natural and synthetic fibres can adversely affect your health. Avoiding synthetic materials such as Polyester, Acrylic, Rayon, Spandex and Nylon can improve the breathability of your garments, and helps regulate the temperature of your skin

Natural fibres are not only the best choice for you, they are also produced more sustainably than synthetic fibres, which often requires high energy usage and crude oils to produce. More than that, natural fibres decompose quicker than synthetic fibres, which have a plastic-like composition.

Let’s take a look at some of these fibres and where you’d be able to find them locally:

Cotton

The most widely used of all the natural fibres, cotton is primarily grown and used to make clothes. This natural fibre is designed and manufactured in such a way that it controls moisture, insulates, and is both hypoallergenic and durable. In recent years, Cotton SA has invested in the Sustainable Cotton Cluster, with the aim of creating an enabling environment for cotton producers and manufacturers to supply local and international customers with fully traceable and sustainable cotton products. This has already resulted in an increase in local production, job creation and the empowerment of smallholder farmers.

100% cotton and 100% organic cotton products are quite easy to lay your hands on. Retailers such as Woolworths SA, have lines dedicated to the use of quality, affordable cotton. Several local fashion designers are also known to use 100% cotton fabrics in their designs, such as Mungo and Jemima, Amanda Laird Cherry and Fundudzi to just name a few. Organic cotton bedding is just as popular, with brands like The Cotton Company and Bloom and Bale leading the charge.

Hemp

The Hemp plant’s bast fibres can be used to create textiles and fabrics that consist only of hemp, but more often than not they are blended with fibres such as flax, cotton or silk. These fabrics and textiles are antimicrobial and also absorbs and release perspiration quickly. Hemp is cultivated with a low impact on the environment and requires no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or GMO seeds. Hemp is also known as one of the most durable natural fibres globally.

Locally, you can find a limited range of hemp clothing basics and accessories at the Hemporium, while high-end fashion designers, such as Pichulik, also makes use of Hemp to create their luxurious designs, committed to natural fabrics and sustainable fashion.

Mohair

Mohair, sometimes referred to as the ‘The Diamond Fibre’, is derived from the Angora goat. More or less 50% of mohair globally is produced in South Africa, with South African mohair or Cape Mohair being regarded as the finest and best quality. Mohair garments are naturally crease-resistant, as well as stretch-resistant. These garments are also light and absorbent, making them perfect for summer, while its insulating properties will also keep you warm in the winter.

Mohair is the popular fibre of choice in sport and medical socks, as their smooth fibres drastically reduce chafing and blistering. The well-established Cape Mohair brand is recognised globally for their quality mohair socks, as well as blankets.

Linen

Linen, a textile made from the fibres of the flax plant, is known to be very absorbent and keeps one cool and fresh in hot weather. Linen is also said to be 2 to 3 times stronger than cotton fabric and is naturally anti-static, as well as anti-cling. Linen fibres are woven in such a way as to allow air flow, preventing the fabric from sticking to your skin. While wearing linen, one can feel a three to four degree difference in temperature and perspire up to 1,5 times less than with cotton for example.

Although linen is available in some lines at major retailers like Woolworths, Poetry and H&M, you will also be able to find beautiful pieces at designers like Jane Sews, Mungo and Jemima (just check out their beautiful Rayon linen jumpsuit), and luxurious linen bedding at Mungo.

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