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Monday, April 21, 2014

A Word on Real Vs Synthetic Fibers



I touch on this topic occasionally, especially during springtime. With Earth Day and other events that focus on the environment, the debate over real or natural fibers versus synthetic ones tends to come up. I am not a proponent for either side. However, I do notice that the scales are tipped in natural fiber's favor. The thing is both are good and bad for the environment. Depending on the designer and manufacturer both can produce high and low quality clothing.

Some natural fibers are used in their raw form to create fabric. Unfortunately, using natural fibers without any type of processing is not appealing to consumers. We like color. Natural fibers that have not been processed, are pretty much in the beige category -- bland looking. There will be no white wedding dresses. No black tuxedos. Say goodbye to the red power suit. Forget about prints altogether. The truth is, natural fibers need to be cleaned, bleached, and dyed to help create the fashions you like.

Now synthetics are not off the hook either. Since the entire process of creating a synthetic fiber is chemical there will be dangers presented to the environment. I go into greater detail about this in Sustainability in Fashion Requires a Good Mix of Natural, Recycled and Synthetic Fabrics.

Another thing people get mixed up about real fibers or fabrics versus synthetic one is that synthetic fabrics are tacky or just do not look as good as the real thing. Most of the fashions people drool over are either made with some synthetic fibers or entirely from synthetic fibers. This BCBGMAXAZRIA Women's Kellan Print Blocked Shift Dress is made of 94 percent polyester and six percent Spandex. I don't think too many people consider a garment from BCBGMAXAZRIA as being tacky or cheap. This dress certainly does not look cheap. However, there is not one single natural fiber to be found.

It just goes to show that natural does not always mean better. Neither is synthetic always better. They both have their pros and cons. I say give both an equal shot!

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