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What Are Fabric Blends and Are They Even Sustainable?

94% Cotton 6% Elastane. 56% Viscose 44% Polyester. Ever wondered why the fabric composition tags inside your clothes read like food ingredient labels? Ahead, we explore to what extent blended fabrics threaten the environment. 

Key Takeaways: Better when blended 

Some fibres are adequate at serving the purpose of a product by themselves without the need for a blend. For example, a 100% organic cotton shirt is a great summer staple, but a pair of 100% organic cotton leggings aren’t exactly the best idea for activewear. When blended, fibres either make up for each other’s shortcomings or enhance their overall properties. In the latter case, gym leggings made from 92% organic cotton blend with 8% elastane would make up for the right amount of stretch that organic cotton lacks while playing off cotton’s breathable, soft and absorbent strengths. But how do fabrics get blended, to begin with?

Blended fabrics are either woven or knitted using mixed yarns that have been made by twisting two or more fibres together before they are spun into yarn. Another method of creating fabric blends involves weaving warp (lengthwise) threads made of a single or blended fibre with weft (crosswise) yarns made from another. By using these two methods, textile engineers have created fabrics with desirable properties that can’t be achieved through a single fibre. Additionally, the cost of an expensive yarn can be cut down by blending it with low-cost fibre, producing a more cost-competitive product.

Synthetic blends sabotage the environment

In 2020, the Global Blended Fibres Market size was worth over USD 30 billion and was set to surpass $36 billion by 2024. A large portion of this market share is occupied by the demand for cotton/polyester blends that have generated worldwide revenue of nearly $7 billion in 2016 alone, owing to its extensive usage in manufacturing daily wear fabrics. This is closely followed by nylon/wool blends that also offer benefits like reduced cost, absence of skin irritation, and minor wear and tear. 

As the demand for these synthetic fibre blends continues to grow, so do the issues regarding recycling clothes. Often confused with upcycling, recycling involves a mechanical process where clothes made from natural materials like wool and cotton are pulled apart and cleaned. Following this, the fibres are then spun back into yarn to make new fabrics. However, this process gets complicated when a garment is made from a synthetic blend.

The BBC’s recycling report claims that sorting textiles into different fibres and material types manually is labour intensive, slow, and requires a skilled workforce. In addition, scaling up this technology to an industrial level remains a challenge. By 2030, we are expected to discard more than 134 million tonnes of textiles per year, 95% of these textiles could be reused and recycled, but synthetic blends are making the job harder.

Make way for a sustainable mix 

At ZAVI, we are aware of the many benefits that come from using blended fibres and strive to choose them from an array of sustainable fibres. Our Spring/Summer ’21 collection features a range of diverse fabric blends that are not only sustainably certified but can fully biodegrade at the end of their life.

Made from 70% LENZING™ EcoVero™ Viscose/30% LENZING™ TENCEL™

ZAVI Mahogany Dress 
Mahogany Dress 

Made from 58% Linen/42% LENZING™ EcoVero™ Viscose

ZAVI Wisteria Dress
Wisteria Dress

ZAVI Verbina Shirt
Verbina Shirt

ZAVI Lupin Shirt
Lupin Shirt

Made from 68% LENZING™ TENCEL™ Denim/32% Cotton

ZAVI Periwinkle Coat
Periwinkle Coat

ZAVI Maryam Dress
Maryam Dress

Made from 91% LENZING™ EcoVero™ Rayon/9% Elastane 

Ribbed Basic Tee 
Ribbed Basic Tee

ZAVI Nova Top
Nova Top

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-07-31

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