Cotton is the bread and butter of modern menswear, but it’s not without its faults. This go-to casual fabric might be cheap and readily available but it’s terrible for the planet, and it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of performance too.
Conventional cotton production uses vast amounts of water and harmful chemicals. These chemicals are released into rivers, lakes and wetlands, where they contaminate the water and damage biodiversity. But what can you do about it?
One solution is to stock your wardrobe with more environmentally-friendly fabrics and minimise your cotton consumption. One of our favourite alternatives is lyocell, which is a semi-synthetic material made from trees that offers increased breathability and lower water consumption when compared to cotton.
Lyocell is becoming an increasingly popular option for clothing, and while it is undeniably more expensive than cotton, it offers many additional benefits. In this guide, we’ll explain the ins and outs of this relatively new material and take a look at some of the key pieces to add to your wardrobe.
Lyocell is a fancy eco-friendly fabric. It’s made from wood pulp, usually from trees like eucalyptus or bamboo plants that can be grown without lots of water.
The great thing about it is that it’s produced using a closed-loop system, which means any and all chemicals used in its production are recycled and used again rather than being pumped out into nature. This makes it more sustainable than many materials that are comparable in terms of performance and durability.
It’s soft, breathable and great for clothing because it wicks away moisture and dries quickly.
You will often see the words ‘Tencel’ and ‘lyocell’ used interchangeably. Are they the same thing? If so, why are there two different words for one fabric?
It may seem confusing, but Tencel is just a brand name for a type of lyocell fabric. The reason it gets used so much is because it has gained a reputation as the best lyocell on the market. Think of it like Sellotape with sticky tape, or Tannoy with public-announcement systems – the brand’s product has become so popular that its name is used in place of the original name of the general product.
If you’re not already clear on the many benefits of lyocell fabric, allow us to break it down for you. First off, lyocell is one of the more environmentally-friendly fabrics out there. It’s also great in hot weather thanks to the fact that it dries quickly and wicks moisture effectively.
In terms of comfort, it’s lightweight and super breathable, and it’s low maintenance due to its resistance to creasing.
Lastly, lyocell is hypoallergenic, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin.
Lyocell is a great option when it comes to shirt fabrics because it’s immune to creasing and easy to care for. It’s also great in hot weather thanks to its breathability, excellent moisture wicking and quick drying time.
Put all of that together and you have the perfect material for a summer shirt, which is why you’ll find an increasing number of short-sleeves from top brands being made from the stuff.
Labels making some solid options in this category include NN07, Norse Projects, Folk and Uniqlo.
For the same reason, Lyocell is a good option for long-sleeved shirts too. If you wear a button-up to work, it could be a good choice in terms of comfort and time management.
Not only will you be able to save a few minutes on ironing every morning, but the breathability and moisture wicking of the fabric will help to keep you comfortable and sweat-patch free even in the stuffiest of office environments.
When you think T-shirt, you probably think cotton. But lyocell tees are growing in popularity as an alternative.
As you now know, Lyocell is far better from an environmental standpoint, but it’s also extremely soft and comfortable against the skin, which makes it perfectly suited to this particular job.
The downside is that lyocell T-shirts tend to be a little more expensive, but if you ask us it’s an investment worth making. Beware: once you try one you may never be able to go back.
If there’s any part of the anatomy that requires comfortable, breathable clothing, it’s the undercarriage.
It’s possible to buy quality underwear in soft, cooling lyocell, which will help to keep you comfortable and free from chafing throughout the day.
Lyocell shorts are another prime example of why this cooling and breathable fabric is perfectly suited to warm weather.
It looks sharp enough to pair with smarter summer pieces like knitted shirts, loafers and button-ups, but it’s infinitely more airy, light and comfortable than cotton.
Check out options from Lululemon, Patagonia and COS.
Unless you go down the linen route, tailoring tends to be hot. Wool isn’t exactly the coolest fabric going, and it can feel too heavy on summer days.
In contrast, lyocell is light, airy and quick drying, and it doesn’t have the dishevelled look of linen so it comes across slightly more put together.
For all the reasons stated above, lyocell is also a fantastic alternative to wool when it comes to tailored pants.
It’s still nice and smart, but it’s far lighter, airier and more breathable too.
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