Our Fabric Guide

A guide to the fabrics & fibres we use, and why we love them

Our Fabrics

We know that the fabrics we use, and how we source them, has huge environmental and ethical implications. We chose each material we use with intention and care, carefully considering what they are made from and the environmental impacts of their production, but importantly we also consider the fabric’s overall life: how durable it is, how long it will last, how easy it will be to care for, and the overall quality of each particular material. We carefully and rigorously wash and wear test our fabrics, so that we can be sure that they are set to stand the test of time. We are pushing each season to discover more recycled, organic and sustainable fabrics and to constantly improve our fabrics choices for our customers, and our goal is by 2025 we will be able to source 100% of our fabrics from entirely natural, traceable sources with minimal environmental impact. Each season, we use production surplus fabrics in our ranges, which means that we are repurposing the textile waste generated from larger fashion brands that would otherwise go to landfill. We proudly launched our first collection made entirely from sustainable fibres in 2018.  We also ensure that we purchase our fabrics through Australian textile agents which allows us to support local businesses as well as the fashion industry here in Australia. 

Kuwaii garments are meant to stay away from landfill. We believe that well made clothing, in timeless designs, that are worn properly and cared for properly, should have a very long lasting useful life. We also believe in re-purposing garments once their useful life is over – such as our weaving collaboration with Maryanne Moodie where she turned our fabric scraps into woven art. 

However at that time when your much-loved Kuwaii piece is totally worn out, we believe in, and are working towards, a closed loop system. What this means is that after the active life of the garment is over, and it can no longer be re-used or re-purposed, it would get broken down through an environmentally friendly process such as composting or biodegrading. 

Keep reading to find a comprehensive guide on every fabric that we use, and the pros and cons of each one.

Tencel™ / Lyocell

Tencel™ is a favourite here at Kuwaii. It is a cellulosic fibre, which is made by dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning. This wonder fabric is hard wearing, easy to care for, is known for its softness, strength and breathability, and it’s also completely biodegradable. As is the case with most textiles, Tencel production has both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Like cotton and bamboo, Tencel is made from plant materials. However manufacturing Tencel requires less energy and water than cotton. The closed-loop manufacturing process make this fabric the most eco-friendly of the regenerative fibres.

This fabric goes by two names. ‘Lyocell’ is the original name of this fibre, and ‘Tencel™’ is the branded version which ensures that it’s been made in a closed loop system. 

Close the loop: Tencel garments are biodegradable and should decompose in compost or landfill in approximately 12 months. 

Hemp

Hemp is a biodegradable fabric made from the fibres of cannabis sativa, and is now known as one of the most eco-friendly in the world. It requires no use of pesticides, herbicides or any other chemical treatment, takes very little water to produce, and can be fully cultivated in 100 days. One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fibre as 4 acres of trees or two acres of cotton. Hemp fabric is incredibly strong (it has the strength of eight times that of cotton), and really durable. This fabric is also known for being hypo-allergenic, so it is perfect to wear if your skin is irritated easily. Hemp will protect you from the sun as it is UV resistant, and stays beautifully cool in the hot weather.

Close the loop: Hemp garments are highly biodegradable and can be should decompose in compost or landfill in approximately 3 months. You may also compost your Hemp garments in your home composter, cutting it into small pieces first. 

Cotton

Cotton is a natural fibre that is made from the seedpod of the cotton plant. It is incredibly versatile and has amazing natural properties: it’s soft, strong, easy to care for, durable and resistant to pilling. Cotton is renewable and biodegradable and has the advantage of being a completely natural product, that doesn’t require an intensive chemical process in order to be transformed into a fabric. However there are concerns about the amount of pesticides used in the production of cotton, how much water it needs to grow, and also the human cost of cotton. 

Because of this, we generally minimise the use of cotton in our garments and source our cotton organically wherever possible. Organic cotton is free of synthetic pesticides, and farmers must meet strict organic standards to carry this label.

Close the loop: Cotton garments should decompose in compost or landfill between 2 weeks and 5 months.

Kuwaii garments are meant to stay away from landfill. We believe that well made clothing, in timeless designs, that are worn properly and cared for properly, should have a very long lasting useful life. We also believe in re-purposing garments once their useful life is over – such as our weaving collaboration with Maryanne Moodie where she turned our fabric scraps into art.

Linen

We adore linen, and we know our customers do too! Linen is a luxurious natural fabric made from the fibres of the flax plant, and is one of the oldest fibres in the world. Linen that’s been well cared for can last for up to three decades. It’s one of the oldest fibres known, dating back to 8000BC.

This sustainable fibre requires less water and energy to produce than its similar counterparts, and gets softer with each wash and wear. Linen has three times the strength that cotton does, as well as holding natural heat and moisture-wicking properties, meaning it breathes incredibly well and will help keep you dry and cool. It becomes softer and more pliable with each wear and each wash: it just gets better and better!

Flax, the plant from which Linen is made, is also extremely versatile. Every part of the flax plant has traditionally been used to create a worthwhile product – nothing is wasted, and production is cost effective. Flax is resilient and can grow in poor soil, using far less water in its consumption than cotton. 

Linen’s benefits go beyond just fashion related – it is also anti-bacterial, and often used for bandages.

Close the loop: Linen garments can decompose in compost or landfill in approximately 2 week to 1 month we recommend cutting the fabric into small pieces first to aid break down.

Wool

We generally minimise our use of wool, being that we lean towards choices that respect animals, however during winter, a woollen jumper or coat can’t be beaten! Wool is a natural fibre which comes from the hair of sheep – and is completely biodegradable. This fibre is also renewable, as each year sheep produce a new fleece after they have been shorn. Wool has many amazing properties – including the ability to react to changes in body temperature, meaning it will help you stay cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather. It has a beautiful, soft feel, as well as a natural elasticity which will stretch and return to its natural shape as you wear it. We try to source all the wool we use from production surpluses, meaning that this is a more ethical choice for us and our customers. 

Australia is the world’s largest supplier of wool, grown year round across the country. 

Close the loop: Woollen garments such as a skivvy can decompose in compost or landfill in approximately 9 months, a heavy woollen garment such as a jumper or jacket can take up to 4-5 years.

 

Did you know, that each season, we use production surplus fabrics in our ranges, which means that we are repurposing the textile waste generated from larger fashion brands that would otherwise go to landfill?

Other cellulosic fibres – Rayon & Viscose

Rayon and Viscose is a biodegradable fibre are made from wood cellulose sourced from quick growing, regenerative trees such as eucalyptus, beech and pine, as well as plants such as bamboo, soy and sugar cane, which is then chemically treated to produce its fibres.

Rayon and Viscose have a beautiful natural drape, and are known for their softness, moisture absorbency, as well as being breathable and comfortable to wear. As a plant-based fibre, viscose is not inherently toxic or polluting. However, because of the growing fast fashion industry, much of the viscose on the market today is manufactured cheaply using energy, water and chemically-intensive processes.

Because of this, we limit the use of these fibres, generally only allowing them into our collection when blended with another natural fibre to create extra strength, drape and durability. 

Close the loop:  We would expect these fibres to break down in compost or landfill in between 2 weeks to 3 months. 

Polyester

Polyester is derived from petroleum, which makes it an accessory to the world’s most polluting industries. The good news is that polyester is durable. It’s super durable. This fibre will last and last and last. Not only is it durable, it’s super easy to care for, and can add some really important properties of longivity to your clothing. While we generally avoid polyester, you may find a small amount of polyester blended in with a natural fibre, so that we can add the all important property of durability and easy-care to our garments. When choosing a polyester blend, you will weigh the pros of an incredibly durable garment with the con of a less-sustainable fibre.

Close the loop: A 100% polyester garment will take 20-200 years to decompose in compost or landfill