KNOW YOUR FABRIC
Mei Vintage values the idea of slow fashion and sustainability, with a mindset of making garments that will last and be worn repeatedly. A simple way to start incorporating sustainability into your wardrobe is to understand your fabric of choice.
What are sustainable fabrics and why should we choose them?
Sustainable fabrics are ones that seek to reduce harm to the environment. This can include sustainably-grown, natural plant fabrics or recycled fibres and fabrics as an alternative to creating waste.
Today, most of the clothing that we wear is made from synthetic, man-made materials such as polyester which is essentially a type of plastic. During the production of polyester, harmful substances are often released into the environment. Additionally, once a polyester garment is discarded, it does not biodegrade and contributes to landfill that could last for decades or even centuries.
Mei Vintage clothing uses organic cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp. We want you to understand more about the fabrics in your clothes so that you can be proud of where they came from and the value that they hold!
Cotton is one of the most versatile and widely used fibres - it can be found in many of our everyday items, in garments like t-shirts and denim jeans, and other household textiles like bath towels! It is naturally soft, breathable and moisture wicking, which means that it is super comfortable to wear and doesn’t make you sweat.
Cotton gets its name from cotton plants, which are grown in fields that look like white, fluffy clouds. After they’re harvested, the cotton fibres are processed into threads to be made into various different materials.
Although there are many great benefits of cotton, large amounts of pesticides and water are needed to grow the plant. It is estimated that for one t-shirt, a staggering 2700 litres of water is used and the cotton industry accounts for 16% of insecticides used globally each year.
This is where organic cotton comes in.
Organic farmers reduce the need for large amounts of water by cultivating healthier soil that holds water for longer so that less water is needed for growth. Organic cotton eliminates the need for pesticides by using other farming methods - this makes it better safer for farmers who would otherwise be handling dangerous chemicals. It also makes it safer for us and eliminates the trace amounts of pesticides that could be on our clothing.
So we can still love cotton, just make sure it’s organic!
Linen is another natural fibre grown from plants and is one of the oldest textiles in the world; used in 6000BC Middle East, mummies in Ancient Egypt and armour in medieval times. Although linen has become less widely used, it is a material with many great features and is one of the most sustainable.
Linen comes from the flax plant which is spun and woven to create the fabric. The whole plant can be used, which means that there is virtually zero waste. It can be farmed organically and doesn’t require chemicals to grow and it also doesn’t need a lot of water to survive! It absorbs dye very well which means that less dye is needed to create different colours which in turn, produces less chemicals that pollute our planet.
A magical trait of linen is that it can regulate heat very well; during summer it is breathable and reflects heat, and during winter it can regulate heat to keep you warm. It’s many great qualities also include sturdiness and durability which means that it is long lasting and is actually stronger than cotton.
Linen is very easy to wear, its smooth surface doesn’t pill like some other natural materials like wool. It is versatile and can be made in both heavy and lightweight weaves and creates a relatively stiff fabric that doesn’t cling to the skin, making it a perfect option for flowy dresses and shirts.
Bamboo is renowned for being the primary diet of pandas but it is also a valuable material that can create luxurious, soft fabrics in the form of bamboo cotton and bamboo silk!
It has been used by humans in history for housing, furniture and paper and has become popular in the clothing industry as a common eco-friendly option.
It’s made using bamboo plants which are very easy and quick to grow; bamboo can sprout from old shoots once the stalks are cut for harvesting! It also doesn’t require pesticides and can be sustained on just rainwater, making it an environmentally-friendly alternative.
Grown primarily in China, the fabric is made by extracting cellulose from the bamboo to create sheets that are then filtered and made into threads to be woven to create the fabric.
The beautiful qualities of bamboo can mimic silk as it can be woven very thin whilst maintaining its strength. Bamboo is very breathable, sweat-wicking and allows for stretch which makes it super-soft and comfortable to wear against the skin. It’s smooth, cooling ability makes it one of the best fabrics for hot weather or physical activity!
When it comes to hemp fabric, the material is harvested from cannabis plants. It is another fibre that has been used for years; in the 19th century, over 80 percent of the world’s fabric was made from hemp. After dipping in popularity in the 20th century, hemp is back on the rise as consumers are becoming more aware of its environmental benefits.
Like many other sustainable fabrics, it can be grown without pesticides and doesn’t need huge quantities of water, making it a great alternative for cotton. It is an easy plant to manage and can be grown in poor quality soil with roots that replenish the earth to leave the soil in better condition than it was before.
After harvesting, the plants are dried and the fibres are then separated and can be spun into yarn. Its versatility allows it to be used to make fine and heavy fabrics from lace to industrial canvas.
Hemp is naturally incredibly strong and durable so can be worn for years and years. It even softens with each wash, making it more comfortable as time goes on! It’s naturally breathable and can be lightweight, making it ideal in hot climates.