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SUSTAINABLE FABRIC SELECTION GUIDE: Exploring the Cellulosic Family of Rayon, Modal, Lyocell & TENCEL Australia

When it comes to sustainable fabric sourcing, it’s essential to consider not just the style for your fashion brand but also comfort, quality, and sustainable impact. Among the range of cellulosic fabrics available, there are subtle differences in softness and eco-friendliness for you to be aware of when sourcing types of fabrics. The fashion industry is ever changing and sustainable fabric types can be quite confusing at times with many sustainable fashion brands getting caught up in green washing. We have decided to break this down for you by creating a sustainable fabric selection guide, exploring the unique characteristics of Rayon, Modal, Lyocell and TENCEL fabric options and talk about why TENCEL stands out as the superior choice for the modern, conscious fashion brand focused on sustainable fabric selection. We have put together a brief fabric sourcing guide to help you understand the difference between the fabrics in this fabric family.

Exploring the Family of Cellulosic Fabrics

Firstly, you might be asking, what is a Cellulosic Fabric? This is a man-made fabric type often made from wood plants such as bamboo. It is plant based yes, but this does not mean it is automatically a sustainable fabric option. The production process can still contribute to deforestation so it is important to pay attention to the fabric supply chain that you are sourcing your fabrics with before you label your fabrics as sustainable. Now let’s talk about cellulosic fibre fabric family, imagine Rayon, Modal, Lyocell, and Lyocell TENCEL as three generations of one fabric family. All three types of fabrics are derived from cellulose fibres, often sourced from bamboo and tree wood pulp. The process involves harvesting raw wood, breaking it down into wood pulp, dissolving it in solvent, and then forming the fabric’s fibres through extrusion, but, it is how the production process is managed that makes the fabric a sustainable fabric option for your fashion brand.

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Rayon: The Foundation for Modern Cellulosic Fabrics

Rayon Fabric, which is sometimes labelled as Viscose fabric, was the first fabric type created in this family and still holds the largest market share for fashion brands. However, Rayon is known to have low wet strength, meaning it struggles to maintain its shape when washed. Unless blended with another fibre, Rayon fabric can shrink or stretch after washing. Despite this, Rayon remains breathable, comfortable, and softer compared to other cellulosic fibres like cotton and linen. But, is Rayon fabric suitable for your sustainable fashion brand? While this fabric type is more sustainable then synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, it is not as sustainable as completely natural fabrics. So lets keep looking at other fabric types in this family of fibres to see if we have more sustainable options!

Modal: The Enhanced Successor to Rayon

Modal fabric emerged as the second-generation fabric, building upon the blueprint of rayon. It is specifically made from beech tree cellulose, a natural and sustainable source. Beech forests do not require artificial irrigation or planting like cotton plants, less water is needed. This makes modal a more eco-friendly and sustainable fabric type for your sustainable fashion brand. Modal is softer, biodegradable, and offers higher wet strength. This means that it retains its shape and finish even after frequent washing. Unlike synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester, Modal does not trap perspiration and odours, ensuring all-day freshness. So is modal fabric a more sustainable fabric option to Rayon? The answer is yes! But wait – there is more, we can do even better for the environment, keep reading to find out how…

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Lyocell: The Environmentally Conscious and Comfortable Fabric

Lyocell, the third-generation fabric, was developed with a focus on environmental sustainability and comfort. It incorporates hydrophilic nanofibril technology and organic solvents in its production process. These nanofibrils enable Lyocell fabric to wick moisture away from your body, dissipating it into the air. The result is a cooling effect, making lyocell ideal for bedding and sheets. In addition, Lyocell is incredibly silky, soft, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking, surpassing the capabilities of cotton. The production of Lyocell uses only organic solvents, distinguishing it from rayon and modal, which require multiple chemical solvents. Thus, Lyocell offers benefits for both you and the environment for your sustainable fashion brand. Although Lyocell is already doing so much in the sustainable fabric sourcing arena, can we do even better?

TENCEL: The Peak of Lyocell Innovation

Yes we can! We are thrilled to work closely with TENCEL, which is a brand name for a type of lyocell, similar to how Band-Aid represents adhesive bandages. It is created by Lenzing AG, an Austrian textile company. TENCEL™ lyocell is one of the most innovative variants available in this fabric type. With 70% more moisture-wicking and three times more breathability than cotton, TENCEL excels in providing ultimate comfort. Furthermore, TENCEL™ has gained household recognition due to its remarkable sustainability. The TENCEL™ standard ensures forests are sustainably harvested, preventing resource depletion. Additionally, TENCEL fabrics are produced through a closed-loop process, where 99% of the water and organic solvents used are recycled.


If you made it this far in our Sustainable Fabric Selection Guide it means you have gotten to the golden egg, TENCEL! You should now how have better understanding that when it comes to selecting the right fabric type for your sustainable fashion brand, TENCEL stands out as the superior choice if you are after this fabric type and feel. As the newest and most innovative type of lyocell fabric, it offers all the benefits of its predecessors and more. Its exceptional softness, breathability, and eco-friendliness make it a clear winner. However, we understand that pricing is an important consideration and TENCEL isn’t best suited for every garment. If you’re interested in exploring sustainable fabric options for your fashion brand in more detail, our team is here to help. The design team at Visionise has been working with sustainable fabric options for years and is passionate about working with our brands to ensure we link the perfect fabric for your design vision. We are here to help with as little or as much as you may need, let’s have a chat!

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