Types Of Natural Fabrics

Types of natural fabrics

Cotton

  • Function: Cooling
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 3/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Cotton is a soft, fluffy, natural fiber that produces soft, breathable, lightweight textiles.

Where to wear it:

Cotton is soft and breathable, making it the ideal fabric for summer clothing, perfect for warm climates, dry heat, and hot weather. Since it is non-irritating, it’s also an excellent choice for sensitive skin. Cotton is not clingy, which makes it great for clothes with a looser fit. Thanks to its versatility, almost any garment can be made out of cotton. But keep in mind that cotton dries slowly, so it’s not ideal for activewear.

Advantages:
  • Lightweight & breathable
  • Cooling & comfortable
  • Drapes well
  • Strong & durable
  • Hypoallergenic & non-irritable
  • Dyes & print well
  • Colourfast
Disadvantages:
  • Wrinkles & creases easily
  • Shrinks in hot water
  • Weakened by perspiration / sun / soap
  • Susceptible to mildew
  • Static & pilling
  • Fades in direct sunlight
  • Low resiliency

Linen

  • Natural plant fiber
  • Function: Cooling
  • Not wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Woven from the stems of flax, linen is also a natural fiber, but it is twice as strong as cotton, making it a medium-weight fabric.

Where to wear it:

Garments made of linen possess high air permeability, which allows air to flow through the fabric easily and allows the body to breathe. In addition, it is highly absorbent so that sweat will be quickly removed from the skin. This makes linen ideal for summer clothing.

Linen is also stiff fabric and is less likely to cling to the skin. Another great choice for sensitive skin and more loose-fitting clothes. It is used for shirts, shorts, trousers, blazers/suits, knitwear, and outerwear. Compared to cotton, linen wrinkles and creases much more quickly.

Advantages:
  • Very comfortable & smooth
  • Highly cooling & breathable
  • Drapes well
  • Very strong & durable
  • Hypoallergenic & non-irritating
  • Absorbent & dries quickly
  • Resists dirt & stains
  • Dyes & print well
  • No static or pilling
Disadvantages:
  • Wrinkles & creases easily
  • Difficult to remove creases
  • Shrinks in hot water
  • Weakened by perspiration
  • Susceptible to mildew

Hemp

  • Natural plant fiber
  • Function: Warming & Cooling
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 1/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Hemp fabric is made from the fibers of the plant Cannabis Sativa. It’s a high-yield crop that requires no pesticides and needs little water, making it very eco-friendly.

Where to wear it:

Like linen and cotton, hemp is a great choice for summer. It is a lightweight fabric, which means that it is highly breathable, and it also effectively facilitates the passage of moisture from the skin to the atmosphere, so it is ideal for warm, humid climates. In addition, the fabric resists mildew and has UV-resistant qualities. Hemp fabric softens with each washing, and its fibers don’t degrade even after several washes like cotton does. However, hemp is not as soft as cotton.

Advantages:
  • Lightweight
  • Softens with age
  • Drapes well
  • Very strong & durable
  • High resiliency
  • Absorbent & dries quickly
  • Hypoallergenic & non-irritating
  • Dyes & print well
  • Environmentally friendly
Disadvantages:
  • Wrinkles & creases easily
  • Fades in direct sunlight
  • Can be scratchy
  • Not colorfast

Silk

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Cooling & Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 1/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Silk is a natural protein fiber produced by certain insect larvae. It is a soft textile with a sheen, and it’s also the most potent natural fiber.

Where to wear it:

Silk fabric is used for more “formal” garments thanks to its luxurious appearance. It is often the fabric of choice for different types of dresses – such as wedding gowns and evening gowns and dress shirts, skirts, and scarves.

Even though silk is not very absorbent, it is a very light fabric, and because of that, it tends to adjust to your body temperature, which is why silk can be worn to cool you down in summer and keep you warm in the wintertime. It is not recommended on hot days since it will not absorb sweat.

Advantages
  • Lightweight
  • Smooth, soft & comfortable
  • Drapes well
  • Very strong & durable
  • High resiliency
  • Absorbent & dries quickly
  • Hypoallergenic & non-irritating
  • Dyes & print well
  • No static or pilling
Disadvantages:
  • Wrinkles & creases easily
  • Fades in direct sunlight
  • Yellows with age
  • Stains with water
  • Weakened by perspiration / sun / soap
  • Attacked by insects/silverfish
  • Requires dry cleaning

Wool

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming & Cooling
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 5/5
  • Comfort: 1/5

Wool is obtained from the hair of domestic sheep and other animals.

Where to wear it:

Wool jumpers are a classic winter staple. This is because wool creates natural insulation due to the air pockets present throughout. On top of that, it’s also water-resistant, so it’s an excellent option for snowy and rainy weather.

Less well-known about wool is that it also has cooling properties, making it wonderful to wear in warmer weather. It’s also moisture-wicking, keeping you dry. Look out for summer-weight wool.

Almost all types of clothing can be made out of wool: suits, knitwear, trousers, underwear, socks, etc.

Advantages:
  • Breathable
  • Warming & comfortable
  • Drapes well
  • High resiliency
  • Durable
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Resists dirt & water
  • Recyclable
Disadvantages:
  • It may be scratchy on the skin
  • Static & pilling
  • Shrinks with heat & moisture
  • Must be hand-washed
  • Attacked by moths
  • Susceptible to mildew
  • Poor resistance to sunlight

Cashmere

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Cashmere wool, usually simply known as cashmere, is a fiber obtained from the hair of the Indian cashmere goats. Depending on the garment, cashmere can be matte or have a sheen, with often visible hairs.

Where to wear it:

Despite its lightweight, cashmere keeps you warm and cozy during harsh winters and dark autumns. If taken proper care of, high-quality cashmere can last for years.

Unlike other types of wool, cashmere is not scratchy. It is one of the softest types of wool and very comfortable to wear.

While cashmere is lovely to wear during autumn and winter, the natural properties of cashmere make it ideal for balancing out warmer temperatures and keeping you cool and comfortable during spring and summer.

Cashmere is typically used for knitwear and outerwear.

Advantages:
  • Soft, lightweight & breathable
  • Warming & comfortable
  • Insulating
  • High resiliency
  • Durable
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Recyclable
Disadvantages:
  • Static & pilling
  • Shrinks if washed incorrectly
  • Must be hand-washed
  • Attacked by moths
  • Susceptible to mildew

Camel Hair

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5

Camel hair fabric is a fiber obtained from the hair of the two-humped Bactrian camel. The highest-grade threads are tan-colored, delicate, and soft, whereas the lowest grade is brownish-black and tends to be quite rough to the touch.

Where to wear it:

Almost twice as insulating and much more flexible than wool, camel hair fabric is resistant to crushing and will keep you looking crisp and wrinkle-free.

Camel hair fabric is most often seen in its natural tan color. It is generally navy blue, red, or black when the fiber is dyed. Camel hair fabric is most often used in coats and jackets for autumn and winter garments with a brushed surface. Camel hair gives fabric warmth without weight and is incredibly soft and luxurious when the finest fibers are used.

Advantages:
  • Soft, lightweight & breathable
  • Warming & comfortable
  • Insulating
  • High resiliency
  • Durable
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Recyclable
Disadvantages:
  • Static & pilling
  • Shrinks if washed incorrectly
  • Must be hand-washed
  • Attacked by moths
  • Susceptible to mildew

Alpaca Wool

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Alpaca wool originates from the fleece of the alpaca. Since an alpaca can produce fleece throughout its life without being harmed, this can be a sustainable and animal-friendly fabric.

Where to wear it:

Due to the fineness of alpaca fibers, alpaca wool is exceptionally soft. It is also hypoallergenic and an excellent choice for sensitive skin. As alpaca wool is a naturally warm fiber, it is an ideal material for winter clothing. 

Advantages:
  • Soft, lightweight & breathable
  • Warming & comfortable
  • Insulating
  • High resiliency
  • Durable
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Recyclable
  • Hypoallergenic & non-irritating
Disadvantages:
  • Static & pilling
  • Must be hand-washed
  • Attacked by moths
  • Susceptible to mildew

Mohair

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5

Classified as a specialty long hair fiber, mohair is obtained from the Angora goat.

Where to wear it:

Mohair fibers have a relatively smooth surface. This means that it is softer to the touch and is less likely to be itchy on the skin. Mohair is a great option for sensitive skin.

Mohair is warm in winter and cool in summer due to its heat-regulating properties – unlike sheep’s wool, mohair fibers don’t conduct heat and provide good insulation even when wet.

Advantages:
  • Strong & durable
  • Insulating
  • High resiliency
  • Resists shrinkage & wrinkles
  • Resists odor
  • Dyes well
  • Colourfast
  • Hypoallergenic & non-irritating
Disadvantages:
  • Static & pilling
  • Must be hand-washed
  • Attacked by moths
  • Susceptible to mildew

Yak Wool

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5

Yak wool is a soft, natural, and sustainable fabric produced from the hair of the yak. The fibers are naturally wonderful, making them extremely soft and comfortable against the skin. The soft, fine under hair is the desirable element of the yak’s coat and is removed by a process known as de-hairing, which separates the soft under hair from the coarse outer hair.

Where to wear it:

Yak wool is used for making jumpers, hats, and jackets that keep you warm in winter. It’s mainly aimed at being a more sustainable substitute for cashmere.

Advantages:
  • Lightweight & breathable
  • Resistant to sweat
  • Resists wrinkles
  • Repels to odors
  • Anti-microbial
  • Sustainable
Disadvantages:
  • Requires hand wash / dry cleaning

Leather

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 3/5
  • Comfort: 3/5

Leather is the natural skin or hides of an animal – typically cattle. To make this fabric, any hair is removed from the hide, and the skin is preserved and softened in a chemical process called tanning. Leather can be dyed, coated, and embossed to give it a wide range of characteristics.

Where to wear it:

Leather is a unique textile because it seems to get better with age. If properly cared for, it can last a lifetime. It’s very durable, and it’s a marvelous shield against wind and weather, making it the ideal fabric for jackets and other outerwear. However, since leather is obtained by skinning animals (and hence killing them), it is never an ethical material, and it’s best to opt for the fake versions instead.

Advantages:
  • Lightweight
  • Very strong & durable
  • Resistant to sweat
  • Repels liquids & stains
  • Resistant to wind & weather
Disadvantages:
  • Requires dry cleaning
  • Animal welfare issues
  • Requires chemicals to produce

Fur

  • Natural animal fiber
  • Function: Warming
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine wash
  • Breathability: 1/5
  • Comfort: 3/5

The fur comes from the skinning of animals and the stripping of their coats. Furs have restricted sizes because they come from hides and skins, making them harder to be worked into clothing and thus more expensive.

Where to wear it:

Fur is the natural coat of an animal. It is thus best suitable for keeping warm in winter. Fur is used to make hats, coats, gloves, scarves, and other winter garments.

However, you must remember that although fur is a natural fabric, it is never an ethical material since animals must be killed to obtain their fur and animal welfare is always an issue. If you want the fur look, opt for synthetic faux-fur options instead.

Advantages:
  • Lightweight
  • Strong & durable
  • Resistant to sweat
  • Repels liquids & stains
Disadvantages:
  • Requires dry cleaning
  • Animal welfare issues
  • Requires chemicals to produce

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