Here are the best fabrics to use and the worst fabrics to avoid. We listed their advantages and disadvantages.
With more than 80 billion units of clothing per year, the clothing industry has been expanding its reach around the world. While the production volume is higher than ever and there are even more brands, this surge in the world of clothing has taken its toll on the environment.
With manufacturers seeking new ways to reduce production costs, they turned to produce garments from fabrics that barely meet health standards.
In this extensive guide, we will be focusing on the best fabrics to look for when shopping for new clothes. We have also compiled a list of clothing materials that you should avoid.
Fabrics Ranked from Best to Worst
Our skin is a lot more sensitive than we think it is. That’s why wearing clothes made from the best fabric types is of utmost importance.
Manufacturers prefer the fabrics below for various reasons such as low costs and faster production. But we, as consumers, should be keen on choosing the right clothes for our skin health. Environmental concerns can be among the factors as well.
Hemp is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly fabrics. Unlike the other clothing materials used in the apparel industry, it does not require massive amounts of water to produce. Another great feature of hemp is that it is quite durable as it preserves its structure even after multiple washes.
It is definitely on the top of our list of fabrics ranked from best to worst.
Moisture-wicking and hypoallergenic
Soft and breathable
Requires extra care
Not very colorfast
2. Organic Cotton
Organic cotton is one of the best fabrics used in the fashion industry. While conventional cotton is one of the worst fibers for the environment, organic cotton offers the chance to reduce the massive amount of damage resulting from conventional production.
When it comes to shrinkage and sustainability, clothes produced from organic cotton are still the best option. While it still requires special care, it is not that as vulnerable as its conventionally manufactured counterpart.
Organic cotton’s structure is quite soft and stretchable as well. The micro-gaps in its texture allow the skin pores to receive air. When that does not happen, the skin becomes prone to acne and blackheads.
Due to its hypoallergenic structure, cotton does not result in rashes and irritations.
That’s why preferring a cloth that is made entirely of organic cotton is essential for those with sensitive skin.
Soft and breathable
Requires thousands of liters of water to produce
Conventional cotton is among the worst natural fibers when it comes to sustainability
Linen is the go-to option when you are preparing your wardrobe for the summer season. It is an all-around great fabric to look for when shopping for new clothes.
What’s great about linen is that it does not preserve heat and allows it to leave the body. The fact that it is lightweight makes it a viable option for formal wear as well. Manufacturers usually prefer linen in the production of hats, polos, and t-shirts.
Great for hot days
Shrinks and wrinkles easily
A natural protein fiber, silk has been one of the oldest materials used by humanity. It is possible to trace its use back to the 2nd century. Today, both consumers and manufacturers consider this clothing material luxurious. This highly absorbent material is often portrayed as the symbol of glamour and luxury in the fashion industry.
There is no doubt that silk is an expensive fabric compared to its rivals. Though it is also among the best fabrics thanks to its wrinkle-free and highly absorbent texture. As it does not contain plastic microfibers, it is healthy for your skin as well.
That being said, silk is one of the most expensive clothing materials to produce. Although it has been around for more than two thousand years, mass production has negative impacts on the environment.
Stretchable and breathable
Prone to stains
Loses shape after multiple washes
Wool is one of the toughest materials used in clothing production. It is a resilient fabric that can preserve heat, rendering it an essential material in winter clothing. Thanks to its solid structure and resistance to odor, it is a great fabric that we often see in jackets, socks, and blankets.
On the other hand, it is not the best option for those who have sensitive skin. Although it has a soft touch on the skin, the firm layers within its structure trap heat. This can result in heat rashes and other irritations on the skin.
The use of wool in the fashion industry has resulted in negative backlash as it, as the production solely depends on animals. While the animal factor has been a source of disputes, wool sheared from alpacas or other animals is more sustainable than the sheep-shearing method. If you have concerns about the environmental impacts, keep in mind that it is better than their counterparts that include plastic micro-fibers.
Keep the body warm by preserving heat
Resistance against odor and wrinkles
Hard to clean
Can irritate dry or sensitive skin
Due to the plastic microfibers in its structure, nylon is one of the most resilient and stretchable fibers. It has a good level of elasticity, and it can be cleaned easily. It is also one of the most used clothing materials in the clothing industry thanks to its features like retaining dye and crimp well.
That being said, it is also among the worst fabrics when it comes to environmental effects. It is one of the most hazardous fibers both for the skin and the environment.
Durable and stretchable
Does not decompose easily
Adds to plastic waste and pollution
Polyester is the price-performance product in the world of the clothing industry. As it is the least sustainable material, it is one of the worst fabrics to wear and to produce.
Polyester offers almost everything you would want to see in a durable fabric. It does not lose its shape after multiple washes. It is highly resistant to stains and wrinkles as well. These features indeed make this plastic micro-fiber fabric stand out among its counterparts. But the environmental effects of its production caused polyester to be seen as the least favorable option in sustainable fabrics.
Manufacturers prefer polyester as it has low production costs. That’s why more than %65 percent of the clothes we wear today are made of polyester or contain this very material in them. While it is quite durable, comfortable, and stretchable, most brands and clothing lines should switch to utilizing more sustainable options.
Strong, flexible, and resistant to shrinkage
Durable and stretchable
Has immense negative impacts on the environment
Contains chemicals that can trigger allergies in sensitive skin
These are the fabrics rated from best to worst. All of them have their own advantages and disadvantages.