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Cellulosic fibres have been used for centuries and are the most environmentally friendly fibres because they do not require a chemical process to turn them into fabric. Cellulosic fabrics come from plants or trees, in particular the stems, seeds, or bark, which is cleaned, separated, and then spun into fibre. Examples of cellulosic fabrics we use at Cotswold Collections are cotton and linen.
The history of cotton can be traced back to 4500 BC in South America, and is prized for its breathability, comfort, and low maintenance. Although cotton is naturally occurring and does not require chemicals to transform the plant into a fibre, it is a very thirsty plant with a single cotton plant requiring around 10 gallons of water; this means cotton farmers need to use irrigation techniques to ensure resources are protected.
Linen, which comes from the flax plant, is even more ancient than cotton, and possibly the oldest textile on earth with examples being found which could date back over 30,000 years. It was grown in Great Britain from around 900 BC until the second world war, with Northern Ireland still growing linen until 2009. Flax grows very well and does not require too much care and can produce two very different product: stalks are used for linen and the seeds, known as flaxseeds or linseeds, used for food or oil. Linen is a summer-time favourite due to its breathability, moisture-wicking and cool comfort. It is also often blended with viscose for a softer handfeel and more premium feeling product.
Semi-cellulosic fabrics such as viscose, lyocell and modal are known for their soft hand feel and beautiful drape, they can also hold colours very well. Semi-cellulosic fabrics are derived from trees and undergo a chemical process to turn the wood pulp into a fibre. Because of how it is processed, not all semi-cellulosic is made equal, look out for TencelTM and EcoVeroTM as these fabrics have been made using the highest environmentally friendly sustainable processes which ensure the trees used have not contributed to deforestation or habitat loss and that all chemical processing is done in a responsible manner.
Protein fibres are those which have come from an animal, and like cellulosic fibres, they only require mechanical processing to help clean, separate and spin into yarns. The main protein fibres we use at Cotswold Collections are Lambswool and Merino.
Merino wool is known for its great durability and great washability, it also does not hold on to odours which means you can wash it less. Merino wool is also great at adapting to body temperatures, which means it cools when you are hot and heats when you are cold. At Cotswold Collection, we ensure that the merino wool which we buy has not been mulesed. Mulesing is a practice carried out on some farms which can be very harmful and painful to the sheep, we do not believe it is a humane practice, therefore we do not buy wool from such farms.
Sheep were first introduced to the UK in around 4000 BC, and 2000 years later their wool was being spun to make fabrics, lambswool is one of the few textiles which is still being produced in the UK today and is a great export with over half of production going to overseas markets. The sheep that produce clothing for Cotswold Collections are in Scotland and Ireland where the winters can be wet and windy, but the sheep stay warm and dry thanks to their woolly coats. The warmth and slight water resistance is one of the great benefits to wearing lambswool, as well as its strength and durability.
Synthetic fibres have a bad reputation, and this is often for good reason, especially when thinking about fast fashion garments which may be thrown away after just a few wears. At Cotswold Collections, we use synthetic fabrics where there is a real benefit to the garment. Synthetics are very durable and therefore can increase the lifespan of a garment.
Polyester is the newest of the fabrics to the clothing market, being less than 100 years old. It was introduced to the 1950s as a ‘miracle fabric’, due to its wrinkle-free appearance, high stretchability, strength, and ease of care and while in some ways it still is as no other fibre has all of these properties, there are also a lot of problems around the use of polyester. At Cotswold Collections, we try to only use polyester where there is a real benefit to the garment, it is great in trousers as it helps the fabric to keep its shape, or in blouses that need to stay wrinkle-free.
Acrylic was invented in the 1800s initially to mimic the properties of wool, and since then has been used in a variety of different applications. When blended into other yarns, acrylic can greatly increase the durability of a knitted garment, add warmth and comfort without weight, keeps its shape, and due to it being less porous than protein fibres can hold colour for much longer.
As well as selecting the right type of fabric for a garment, the printing method is just as important, we want to achieve a crisp and clear print, and ensure that we are being as environmentally friendly as possible with our print choices. Some print methods require huge amounts of water, chemicals, and energy, but at Cotswold Collections, where possible, we choose print techniques which have the least impact and the best results.
Sublimation printing is the industrial version of an iron-on transfer, it uses only the exact amount of dye which is used on the garment and therefore has absolutely no dye waste. It does not need curing or washing after print, so is a great way to get a beautifully detailed design with minimal
Just like an ink-jet printer, a digital print will print a pre-programmed design on to a roll of fabric. Unlike screen printing techniques, there is no limit on colour or design, and because the ink is transferred directly from printer to fabric, there is no wastage. Once a roll of fabric has been printed it can be cut straight away, unlike some other printing methods, digitally printed fabric does not need to go through a high temperature wash. Digital printing is one of the most environmentally friendly printing processes that is currently available.