If we jolt down all kinds of fabrics available in the market, on a grand scale we can divide them into two basic types. One is the natural fabric, another one is the synthetic fabric. There are mixed fabrics with a blend of both natural and synthetic fabrics, but if we are to differentiate, we get these two types.
Today, we will conduct a thorough analysis as to which one is better. Since the comfort and betterment is a very relative term, we will be using a few key pointers to be fair to both of the fabrics. We will keep the environmental impacts, the advantages and disadvantages, the fashionability and the consumer reviews into consideration. But before we do that in-depth analysis, first let’s have a look at what exactly these fibres are, and a few examples of them, just to get a clear overview.
Fabrics that are made from animal or plant-based natural fibres are called natural fabrics. The raw and natural materials are first collected, divided into threads and then knit or woven to finally get the natural fabric. Two basic types of natural fibres are turned into natural fabrics later. One is known as animal-based fibres, referring to when the fibres are collected from an animal. Say, wool is collected from sheep, and we get silk from silkworms. The other type is the plant-based, where plants are extracted to make natural fibres. Cotton and jute are examples of plant-based fibres.
Natural fabrics came into light ever since humankind started covering up their body. Back when the first humans wore maybe animal skin or giant leaves to cover their bodies, that was the beginning of natural fabrics- first of its kind. To date, there have been tons of natural fabric products available all over the world. Here are some notable ones:
Linen: is probably the oldest fabric ever created. It is derived from the flax plants. The fabric is washable, non-allergenic and can resist sunlight.
Silk: is a kind of fabric made from the fibres of a silkworm. The fabric has a beautiful texture, is very strong and hypoallergenic.
Cotton: Made from cotton plants, this is by far the most comfortable fabric there is. It’s durable, soft and very versatile.
Leather – Leather is generally made from animal skin. It has very high tensile strength, enabling it to be almost resistant to tear.
Fabrics that are made from synthetic materials and are formed via a chemical process is commonly known as synthetic fabrics. During the chemical processes, synthetic fibres are extracted using a device called a spinneret. Since they are much cheaper and can be an alternative to natural fabrics, the popularity of synthetic fabrics has grown a lot. So much that the demand for polyester has risen sky-high. It is now the single most used textile, overtaking the likes of Cotton.
Polyester: This fibre is created from coal and petroleum. It is well known for its durability, but it’s not breathable at all.
Rayon: These are made from semi-synthetic fibres. It can be used as an alternative to silk and wool.
Acrylic: Synthetic fibres that are made from acrylonitrile polymers. It has good heat retention qualities, so it is used to create fake fur.
Microfibers: Generally made from polyesters, these are super small fibres that come handy while cleansing clothes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Natural Fabrics
Natural fabrics, like most other fabrics, have their pros and cons. Time to point out the flaws and the perfections in these age-old fabrics.
First and foremost, the eco-friendly impacts are what makes natural fabrics favourites. They have high absorbency and the natural fibres tend to absorb water fast. This is a reason natural fabrics are good options when it comes to stuff like towels, bed covers, and sheets. The natural fabrics are durable too because the structure of cellulose makes sure the fibres are strong enough. The majority of the fabrics are breathable, heat-responsive and biodegradable. The fabrics are by nature dirt-repellant, and who wouldn’t want to wear a cotton-made shirt on hot, summer days?
A single cotton shirt usually requires around 2700 litres of water. Yes, we’re talking about one single shirt, like the one you’re wearing. So yes, cotton production does put the environment into agony. Moreover, the genetically modified ones don’t reproduce, which means more water for more seeds! Apart from that, the pesticides used in the plant farms for mass production hamper the environment.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Synthetic Fabrics
The best bit about synthetic fabrics is that they are much, much cheaper. Natural fibres, in their pure form, can be very expensive, and their synthetic imitations work as a good backup to them. The fabrics are more stain resistant, so for daily rough uses, a synthetic fibre made clothes are useful. Most of them are water-resistant as well, while many of the natural fabrics are not.
When you start discussing synthetic fabrics and fibres, the first problem that comes into your mind is the non-biodegradable nature. The fabrics are harmful to the environment, for they don’t degrade with time. The polyester clothes are very neat, but once you wear them you might face breathing issues. The chemicals used in producing synthetic fabrics are quite harmful to mother nature.
Environmental Impacts of Natural and Synthetic Fabrics
A common misconception regarding this is that natural fabrics don’t hamper the environment at all, whilst the synthetic ones do all the damage. This isn’t true. For example, both cotton and polyester have similar environmental impacts due to having similar manufacturing style, with chemicals and additives. Chemicals like bleach or detergents can be proven toxic to the environment. Cotton production requires a lot of water, while polyester production requires the burning of fossil fuel, something that harms the environment too. While cotton is biodegradable, polyester is recyclable fabric, so they’re quite even here.
To conclude, both natural and synthetic fabrics have their fortes and issues, but in the end, it all narrows down to one thing, purpose. If you want clothes for summer, natural fabric is your pick, while your winter collection may as well feature synthetic fabrics. But if you want to save nature and live healthily, then natural fabrics, especially the reused and recycled ones should be your best shot. Contact us and we will help you with your decision!