I feel I have to comment after seeing a clip on TV about ‘eco-friendly’ bamboo fabric and how soft it is. As something of a textile-nerd, nothing makes me more annoyed than seeing myths about certain fabric perpetuated. Let us not speak of my blood boiling when I hear someone say “oh I like satin but not silk” (or vice versa).. Which brings me to my point.
Rayon, viscose, tencel, modal and goodness knows what else they’re calling it these days are all the same thing. They’re all also made from trees, from wood cellulose. Some older kinds may not be, but by and large, all those fabrics come from tree wood, but naturalista’s, don’t get excited – they are completely unrecognisable from the wood from which they came. It would be like getting excited over the water used in the production of your plastic water bottle. Rayon is heavily chemically processed and is classed a semi-synthetic. True, that means it’s semi-natural, and is quite a good fabric, but never mistake it for a natural fibre.
Now repeat after me, bamboo fabric is rayon. It’s rayon using a different wood-chip. A bamboo-chip. It is no more natural than that plastic water bottle, and it’s only claim to being eco-friendly is in the fact that it’s made from a highly renewable resource. But it is not, by any stretch, a natural fibre. Mind you it is more biodegradable than cotton, but I’ll save cotton for another rant (being one of my least-favourite) fibres.
That said, I’m not a naturalista – I love viscose, it’s versatile, when made well extremely drapeable, and great in humid weather. There appears to be a lean by people towards ‘natural’ fibres, without an appreciation of the processing and resources required to produce them. I wholeheartedly blame marketing and it is up to us, the consumer, to educate ourselves, even if that means bursting the bubble of artificial ideals.