While Lyocell appears to be a confusingly scientific name, it is becoming a buzz word within the sustainable textile industry. The term explains a closed-loop process which involves the creation of natural fibers from wood pulp. The innovative material is allegedly biodegradable and therefore provides an eco-conscious alternative to man-made fibers, such as polyester. In fact, while polyester can take up to 200 years to decompose, Lyocell fibers halved in size after 90 days. Therefore, while Lyocell is extremely durable and long-lasting in garments, the material sinks back into the earth at a faster rate once reduced to a fiber again.
How is Lyocell made?
The first step in creating lyocell is harvesting Eucalyptus trees, or oak and birch trees in some cases. By nature, Eucalyptus are one of the fastest-growing tree species and therefore a plentiful resource. The wood is debarked, cut into small chips and combined with chemicals to become a wet pulp. Using chemical solvent, the wet pulp is then dissolved to create raw cellulose. This mixture is pushed through spinnerets and long fiber strands emerge, which have to be then washed and dried. The water from this stage is importantly reused over and over again in the process. Finally, the fibers are spun into a yarn and woven into the fabric for beautiful garments.
There are many options for customers looking for garments made from Lyocell. Tencel Lyocell is an Austrian brand of Lyocell used by the slow fashion brand Organic Basis. Organic Basics is rated ‘Great’ on the Good on You app, which rates a brand’s impact on the environment, people and animals. According to Organic Basics’ website, the fabric “feels softer and lighter than cotton”.
At Contemporary Fashion, we are amazed by the innovations in the sustainable textile industry, including Lyocell, as it represents a drive towards a greener fashion industry. We know that there is no planet b, so re-thinking the way that we create fibers for garments is a necessary step in the right direction.
To discover more about Tencel Lyocell, visit https://www.tencel.com/about. Alternatively, if you are interested in Organic Basics’ garments that use Tencel Lyocell, visit https://organicbasics.com/collections/womens-theme-tencel.