The Footprint and Durability of Our Fabrics
Every fabric will leave a footprint. Our goal at FRANC is to inspire and help create a more conscious, fashion-loving planet. We’re committed to providing slow fashion made with people and the planet in mind. We do our best to bring you quality basics that last longer than the average fast fashion wear. We’re far from perfect, but step-by-step, we can keep growing towards our goals.
All our fabrics are knit and dyed in Toronto, Canada, using OEKO-TEX, non-toxic, low-impact dyes. There are three fibres interwoven to create our fabric blend: TENCEL, cotton, and spandex. Although our fabric is Canadian-made, our yarn is spun exclusively for us by a certified TENCEL yarn supplier in Korea.
The fibre that makes up our yarn comes from different locations. Our TENCEL comes from Austria, our cotton comes from the United States, and our spandex is from LYCRA. The dyes used for our clothing are Bluesign® certificated. Bluesign® reassures that the fabric was created with the highest environmental standard for textiles.
So let’s dive in and take a look at our fabric.
TENCEL. We chose the TENCEL brand because, frankly, it’s awesome. TENCEL is a cellulose fibre created from sustainably sourced, renewable, raw-wood material. The process of manufacturing the fibres is environmentally responsible, traceable, and sustainable-forest guaranteed. The wood fibres are harvested and dissolved in a non-toxic organic solvent. This solvent is then recycled in a closed-loop process, reusing more than 99% of the solution. It takes less energy, water, and chemicals to make TENCEL fibre. In comparison to other common fabrics, TENCEL uses up to 70% less required acreage and 20 times less water. Due to its high-dying efficiency, it uses less than half the amount of dye that is used on cotton. The finished product remains soft and strong, keeping its colour after repeated washing.
For people, TENCEL is:
- gentle on skin
- less likely to shrink
For the planet, TENCEL:
- is biodegradable and compostable
- is of botanic origin from forest to fabric
- uses less water
- creates less pollution
- uses renewable energy
The TENCEL brand not only reduces carbon emissions, but it also goes beyond by offering carbon-zero products. TENCEL’s goal is to have net-zero emissions by 2050. (You can read more about their three-step plan here.)
Cotton is one of the most commonly used natural-fibre fabrics. Cotton production creates around 300 pounds of carbon equivalent emissions per acre, which is a relatively small greenhouse gas footprint. Cotton producers in the United States are making continuous improvements to the cotton carbon footprint. United States cotton production, ginning, cottonseed crushing, and textile processing have adjusted their operations to meet the Clean Air Act Amendments.
Cotton requires a lot of water, pesticides, and land to grow. Organic cotton minimizes its impact by removing harmful pesticides and other chemicals. Recycled cotton is the most sustainable form of cotton. Recycled cotton converts pre-consumer and post-consumer cotton waste into cotton fibres, upcycling it into something new. It reduces water usage and energy consumption and keeps cotton clothing out of the landfill. Our goal is to switch from cotton to organic cotton or recycled when possible.
For you, cotton is:
- soft and comfortable
- resistant to pilling
- easy to launder and mend
For the planet, cotton is:
- going in a more sustainable direction
Spandex. Our spandex comes from LYCRA, a registered trademark of the DuPont corporation. Spandex is a petroleum-based, synthetic fibre that was originally invented as an alternative to rubber. It requires a lot of energy to produce and is not biodegradable. So, why do we use spandex? After many trials with fabrics, we found a bit of stretch would give you what you wanted concerning feel, fit, and wearability. We use spandex as we find it helps our garments last longer, hold their shape better, and bounce back after many uses. We are always looking for a more eco-friendly equivalent to spandex, but, until then, we are making do with what is available.
Since the invention of spandex, LYCRA fibre set the standard for elastane fibre. LYCRA helps transform fabric to make it more durable and bring a fit and shape that lasts. LYCRA works to minimize their environmental footprint by conserving resources, reducing emissions, and eliminating waste. It is one of the world’s leaders in sustainable and safe elastane manufacturing. The process of creating LYCRA isn’t notably bad for the environment. The issue comes after manufacturing. Man-made fibres such as spandex, polyester, nylon, and acrylic are composed of non-biodegradable fibres which lead to micro-plastic contaminating water supplies.
LYCRA is working toward creating a better future with their Planet Agenda. They are working to reduce waste, extend garment wear-life, enable reduced resource usage, and use renewable resources.
All around, we see that the fashion industry needs to do better, and we’re sourcing our yarns from companies that see this and are taking the action to do so. We have a long way to go, but step-by-step, we will get there.
We can reduce the carbon footprint of our clothing by the way we shop and by taking steps to make our clothing last. Our clothing is only durable if we make the effort to care for it properly. Taking steps to extend the life of your clothes will show how durable a fabric is.
- Stretch out the number of times you wear your clothing before having to wash them. (It’s totally okay to wear the same outfit multiple times!)
- Follow the washing instructions included on the garment’s tag.
- Air dry your clothing by hanging to dry or laying it flat on top of a towel.
- Mend and patch tears.
- Extend the life cycle of old clothes by making something new.
And there we have it! There’s so much to learn about fabric footprint and durability. We’re excited to see what comes from more people aiming for a more conscious, fashion-loving planet.
Jade is a freelance writer and copy editor, living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. She loves growing plants, playing with dirt, and staying cozy.