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Tencel® replaces cotton on our white shirts

Our mission is to give freedom to active men, while preserving the planet. To combine elegance and technicality while respecting our values, we make strict choices. To produce in Europe, with responsible partners and materials.

Today we explain why we chose the Tencel rather than cotton for our first shirt white.

1) What is Lyocell / Tencel®?

It is a fibre artificial -man-made- based on a component natural cellulose: the cellulose of wood pulps.

The technical process (known as "solvent spinning") was invented in 1972 in the United States by the company Enka and then marketed under the name Tencel® by the British company Courtaulds.

Bought by LenzingTencel® is therefore an innovative product that was developed by the Austrian textile giant in 2004. BRAND of Lyocell. The best known in the world today. The one we use.

2) How is Tencel ® made?

The Tencel comes from eucalyptus, bamboo, oak, birch, pine or beech trees. Generally harvested from well-managed tree farms. responsible (as many plantings as cuts).

The wood is debarked and cut into several small pieces. Amine oxide, a non-toxic solvent recovered at 99.7% and reused during production, will then dissolve the cellulose in heated and pressurised vessels. The solution is filtered and pumped through spinnerets to produce long strands of Lyocell fibre. These are then cleaned, carded, combed and possibly dyed before being spun.

The manufacturing cycle is short. It takes 2 ½ hours from cutting the wood to spinning. It uses less water and energy than other methods, and does not generate harmful by-products.

3) What are the technical properties of Tencel ®?

Since we're talking about clothes, that's what we're interested in first!

  • The major advantage for our Wolbe range is that Tencel® has a high NATURAL BREATHABILITY. Indeed, composed of many small hydrophilic fibres, it absorbs moisture even better than cotton and dries much faster. It therefore limits the appearance of rings under the arms and the very unpleasant sensation of fabric sticking to the skin after a little acceleration...
  • Its properties antibacterial are recognised. Without sweatingThere is no real breeding ground for bacteria.
  • It offers a pleasantly cool sensation on the skin in summer.
  • It is very sweetIt is light and comfortable. Its surface is smooth and silky. It is perfect for sensitive skin. However, it will be too fluid to consider 100% Tencel® in formal men's clothing. It will need to be blended (with wool, or recycled polyester).
  • Finally, Tencel® is sustainable. Its elasticity and resistance to wrinkling make it a fabric that is easy to care for.

4) Is Tencel® eco-friendly?

Clearly, yes.

  • It is obviously biodegradable.
  • It requires 10 times less water than cotton during its manufacture (1000 litres/kilo). The forests are generally not irrigated or treated.
  • It produces 10 times more material than cotton, per cultivated hectare
  • And wood is used at 100%, no waste 40% will be used for pulping, 10% to extract bio-based materials (acetic acid, xylose...) and 50% will be recycled into energy

5) Why is Tencel® better than cotton?

To understand our reasoning, we first need to set some context. To produce the 100 billion garments sold worldwide each year (x2 in 10 years!), the textile industry manufactured 111 million tonnes of fibre in 2018.

Fibre synthetic (polyester, nylon) unfortunately largely dominate this production: 69% of the total, with 72 million of tonnes. And a dizzying growth rate (see graph below).

Cotton is the most produced natural fibre in the world.

With 27 million tonnes, it represents 84% of the fibre volumes natural produced, ahead of wool and linen. China and India account for 50% of world production, just ahead of the USA.

But cotton is very demanding in terms of its climatic needs! Its cultivation requires 120 days of heavy rainfall during the growing season, and an even longer period of sun, heat and drought to ripen the seeds! This "contradictory" requirement makes it a less than environmentally friendly crop.

And even if there are several different varieties of cotton (supima, sea island, Egyptian...) or developments on the organic side, the figures for its cultivation worldwide are impressive:

 

  • 2.5% of cultivated area...but 25% insecticides and 10% of herbicides used worldwide -source WHO-.
  • 64% of the cultivated volumes are genetically modified.
  • And, absolutely key for us: we need to 10,000 litres of water on average to produce one kilo of cotton fabric (6,000 in China), 22,500 in India) -source Water Footprint network-For comparison, maize requires 1220 litres/kilo and wheat 1000.

A 200g cotton shirt will therefore require over 2000 litres of water and a lot of pesticides.

As cotton also has the disadvantage ofabsorb moisture without drying out quicklyIn order to find the right first technical layer for the Wolbe wardrobe, we decided to look for other ways to make it "stick" to the skin. And we opted for Lyocell / Tencel.

That's it! These factual arguments convinced us to use Tencel®.

This is particularly important as a shirt -like a polo shirt- is the first layer of our breathable system. It must absorb and wick away moisture as quickly as possible, to keep you dry and stylish. This is the essential condition for the underarm ventilation in our car coat or our blazer jacketcan be effective!

But we will see, in a future article, that the merino wool is also an extraordinary material in this perspective!