There is a surge in the demand for organic clothing, owing to fashion designers choosing more environment friendly fabrics on the ramp and retailers promoting such products. Organic clothes and apparels have now entered the mainstream, consumer driven fashion. New researches and interesting developments have led to making fashion more sustainable and modest. This has led to maturity of innovative use of fibres from soy, milk, tea, and even coffee to grow garments.
Hemp is referred to as super fibre. The fabric is made up of fibres found in the blooming of the species cannabis sativa. The crop produced has more fibre per acre than cotton or flax. The most remarkable quality of hemp is that it takes nothing more than 100 days to cultivate the produce, which makes it a renewable and sustainable fibre. Moreover, the fabrics made out of hemp are UV resistant, absorb moisture, and thwart mildew.
The tensile strength of hemps is eight times stronger than cotton and hence traditionally was used in the sails of boats and making ropes for the navies. Textiles made up of hemp fibres are hypo allergenic and combat staph and bacteria, which come in contact with their surface. This makes hemp a meritorious option for organic clothing. The feel of hemp fabrics is linen like and soft, but they wrinkle easily and are not colorfast.
New research has led to utilization of milk protein called casein, derived from sour milk, which is normally thrown away. This protein is further processed and pressed through a mincing machine to create threads. The fibres produced are completely free of chemicals and the fabric feels like silk, can be washed like cotton clothes, and doesn't smell.
The protein in sour milk contains 17 amino acids that are anti-bacterial in nature. Clothes made from milk protein are extremely skin friendly, and can be used to make baby clothes, work-out clothes, and undergarments. Another unique quality of such fibres is that they nourish, moisten, and make the skin wrinkle free, acting as an anti-aging fabric. The good dyeing attribute of milk protein makes the colors look realistic and persistent. Fabrics made from this revolutionary invention are easy to maintain and repel all kinds of fungus, bacteria, and insects, which most natural fabrics do.
Soy protein yarns and blends have been in use since ages for car upholstery. The silk like look and cashmere like feel, make soy fibres an important choice for organic and biodegradable clothing. Like milk fibre, soy fibres are developed from left over soy product. Once the liquid protein is extracted from the remainders, it forced into a spinneret to make liquid soy. The liquid is further processed until; a solid soybean fibre is achieved. These fibres are spun into yarns for knitted or woven fabrics.
Soy is referred to as 'vegetable cashmere' because of its extremely soft quality. It has high moisture absorbency and anti microbial properties. It dries faster than cotton and is 100% biodegradable. The ultra comfortable features of soybean fibres make it apt for bedding, baby wear, and innerwear. The ability to reflect light, gives soybean fabrics the golden silk like finish. The fabrics made of soybean fibres are wrinkle-free, durable, and colorfast.
As unbelievable as it may sound, but with a lot of research, garments can now be developed from sugary green tea. The everyday beverage is now used as a savvy and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fibres. The fabric developed from a mixture of fermented tea is like leather. A bacterial culture is added to the processed sugary green tea mix. These organisms spin cellulose threads, which is a byproduct of the fermentation process, forming a layer on top of the liquid.
A thick sheet is formed after 2-4 weeks, which is dried, and later on, given a certain shape required or sewn together to make a garment. Dyeing this kind of fabric does not need a mordant, and uses a very small amount of dye. The only drawback is that the fabric cannot withstand water or dampness. Hence research is being done to make this tea fabric more durable and hydrophobic. Vegetable leather is completely environment loving and it decomposes naturally.
A cup of coffee may be the perfect way to jumpstart mornings for many. The grounded coffee powder then heads straight to the trash can. But a company has tapped the potential of using these waste coffee beans to make fabrics for sportswear. Coffee grounds are woven into interlaced fibres to create yarns that can be knitted or woven to form fabrics. One cup of coffee produces grounds enough to make two shirts. Since the oils, phenols, and esters are removed from the coffee grounds, before processing, the fabric remains odorless. The sportswear developed from the ground coffee beans is UV resistant and wicks water away.
Another fabric joining the green brigade of organic clothing materials is made from nettles. Stinging nettle can be grown with meager amount of water organically and sustainably. The fabric produced with nettles is tough and is used in car and bus upholstery, while softer fabrics have the texture of linen, are supple and possess anti-microbial qualities.
With the usage of cotton for organic clothing turning sour, due to high amount of water, herbicides, and fertilizers being used to grow the plant, innovative alternatives of developing fabric naturally are increasing day by day. These fabrics stand true to the age old adage of reducing, reusing, and recycling.