We are surrounded by fabrics. The clothes we wear, the sheets we sleep with, the upholstery on our furniture, the rug we walk on. We can’t avoid them.
Before the invention of polyester in 1941, most used fabrics were of natural origin. Wool, cashmere, silk, linen, hemp, and cotton. If you start reading the fabric labels of today, you will most likely find synthetic materials like rayon, acrylic, acetate, nylon, and polyester. Synthetic fabrics are cheaper than natural ones. But the environment and our health are paying the real price of those cheap synthetic fabrics.
The most popular synthetic fabric is polyester. It is cheap and versatile. This is the main reason it has become so famous in the garment industry. Besides the price, polyester is popular because of its properties. It is wrinkle-free, long-lasting and dries quickly. High-quality polyester keeps in shape well and doesn’t shrink. However, due to the rise of fast fashion, nowadays most of the polyester clothes on the market are cheap and of bad quality.
Polyester is a petroleum-based fiber. Each year more than 70 billion barrels of oil are used to produce it. It is made from a synthetic, polymer known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in the combination of harmful chemicals. This all sounds extremely scientific, but basically, polyester is a kind of plastic. Which means that it is not biodegradable and it adds to the microplastic water pollution problem. Every time a polyester garment is washed, it releases tiny particles that end in our oceans. When we wear synthetic fabrics, our body is in touch with all the harmful chemicals that are used in the production process. Also with the dyes. In case of polyester, the dyes are 100% chemical.
Most of the polyester yarns are produced in third world countries where environmental regulations are non-existent. Air and water pollution is often discharged untreated, harming the communities that surround the manufacturing plants. The production of polyester uses less water than the production of cotton, but polyester cannot be dyed using natural dyes. This means that the damage of water supplies is higher.
The most popular natural fabric is cotton. These are the main properties: Cotton is soft and breathable. It absorbs moisture to keep body temperature stable. Depending on the weave and finish, cotton can be also strong and rough as canvas. Cotton fibers are easy to dye with natural dyes and making it a good option for sensitive skin. As a completely natural material grown in fields, cotton is biodegradable. The fabric will break down over time. But in order to be environmentally friendly, the cotton must be grown organic thus without chemicals. Because once the fabric starts to biodegrade, the chemical parts of it are broken down as well. These substances end up in the ground and damage the land, plants, and animals. Organic cotton does not do that. The production of organic cotton is made without the use of pesticides, synthetic growth regulators and the seeds are not genetically modified.
After learning all those facts, it is clear to me that cotton has a more positive impact on the skin and on the environment than polyester. For the outfit of today, I teamed up again with Matter: a brand that makes responsible clothes from natural fabrics.
On these series of pictures, I´m wearing ‘The lounge lunghi + Philippines teal’ pants from their new collection. The pants have a long fabric belt for an easy wrap around the waist. These pants were printed in Jaipur and were stitched in Delhi. The material is a blend of 95% cotton and 5% linen. It was block-printed with azo-free dyes. The pictures were made in Amersfoort by photographer Marisa Elisa Photography.
What I´m wearing:
Pants // Lunghi + Philippines teal from Matter (get it here)
Top // Second-hand from Second Lifestyle shop Amersfoort
Shoes // Ethletic
Bag 1 // From an artisan village in Colombia named Usiacuri
Bag 2 // Matt & Nat
Learn more about Matter and their sustainable and ethical production here.
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