Is Tencel Worth The Hype? A Full Guide To This Epic Sustainable Material

Lacie Wever

April 20, 2022

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Have you just heard about Tencel? Are you looking to learn more about this durable yet silky material? Lucky for you, we have done all the leg work and research to provide you with everything you need to know about this amazing material taking the sustainable fashion world by storm.

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Understanding the materials that touch our bare skin and enter our homes is crucial to conscious consumerism and empowerment in our overall health and wellness. The fabrics that touch our skin on a continuous and daily basis is not something that should be taken lightly, and the absurd amount of plastic in our clothes today is terrifying. Studies show that over 69% of clothing is made from synthetic fibers, including polyester, elastane, nylon and acrylic (source).

The normalization of synthetic fibers in todays society is frightening when we consider the amount of microplastics finding its way into our Oceans, water supplies, and even food. Not to mention, the vast amount of synthetic clothing that is finding its way to landfills and unwanted drop off points every single day.

It’s clear we need more knowledge on materials and ethics in the fashion industry. We are thrilled to teach you all about one of our most favorite eco friendly materials on the market: Tencel.

Answering the most common questions about Tencel Fabric:

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What is Tencel?

Tencel is a brand name for the fiber created by Lenzing AG. It is derived from wood pulp and is most commonly made of Lyocell and occasionally Modal fibers. It is an incredibly soft and breathable material that is quickly becoming a well-known fabric in the sustainable fashion industry. 

Some of the advantages of Tencel fabric include:

  • Biodegradable
  • Breathable
  • Doesn’t wrinkle easily
  • Durable fabric
  • Efficiently absorbs moisture
  • Gentle on the skin
  • Lightweight
  • Long-lasting
  • Made from wood pulp
  • Minimal static charge
  • Stays cool and dry

What is the difference between Tencel Lyocell and Tencel Modal?

One key difference between Tencel Lyocell and Tencel Modal is the source of each fabric. Tencel Lyocell is sourced from Eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees are an excellent source because they do not require pesticides and grow quickly. Tencel Modal is also a plant-based fabric. Modal, however, is sourced from beech trees. Beech trees do not require pesticides for growth and use less water than cotton. Generally, when using the word Tencel, brands are referring to Tencel Lyocell.

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What is Tencel fabric made of?

Tencel is made from wood from Eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees are fast-growing and yield higher cellulose content. 

How Tencel Fabric is made:

  1. Forest
  2. Wood
  3. Pulp
  4. Fiber
  5. Yarn
  6. Fabric

Explained simply, the process of creating the fabric starts in a sustainably sourced forest. The wood is then dissolved into a wood pulp which is turned into cellulose fiber through a spinning process. According to Lenzing, the solvent-spinning process recycles 99% of process water and reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of 99% The fibers are then turned into the yard through a process called carding. During the carding process, fibers are opened, parallelized and dust and impurities are removed to produce a continuous strand of sliver. Next, is the formation of roving before the fibers are spun into yarn. From the yarn, Tencel fabric is created

Is Tencel fabric sustainable?

Yes. Tencel fabric is sustainable because it is a cellulose fiber and is both compostable and biodegradable. The fabric can be composted and biodegraded under industrial, home, soil, and marine conditions (source). In addition, the process for the fabric production is low impact and closed loop. In fact, the use of wood in the pulping process creates bio-energy.

Tencel is certified FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Program For the Endorsement of Forest Certification). FSC confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers while ensuring it sustains economic viability (source). PEFC is an umbrella organization, we endorse national forest certification systems that have been developed through multi-stakeholder processes and tailored to local priorities and conditions (source).

How do I care for Tencel?

What is the best way to care for Tencel? Be gentle! Although it is durable, it is also an incredibly soft, delicate fabric and should be cared for in a loving way (as all our clothes should be treated!).

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How to wash Tencel fabric

  • Wash in cold water.
  • On your washing machine, use the gentle wash cycle. 
  • To avoid shrinking your Tencel fabric, refrain from washing on hot and drying with high heat.
  • The best way to dry Tencel is to hang dry – this also saves energy!
  • If tumble drying, use the cool, low setting.
  • Once dry, you can use a light steam on the Tencel fabric to quickly remove any wrinkles.

Tencel is known for its soft, silky feel. It is breathable, but also versatile. You can find this fabric is used to create sustainable clothing ranging from intimates and activewear to basic tops and cardigans. The fabric does not easily wrinkle and because of the delicacy of the fabric, should not be ironed. High heat can damage the fabric

Sustainable Brands with Tencel Clothing

All Birds is known to use natural materials like wool, tree, and sugar. They openly communicate about how they operate and how they are continuing to work on more positive changes to increase the sustainability of their products. From tracking its carbon footprint throughout five different areas to setting aggressive energy and sustainable material goals, All Birds is a B-Corporation making strides with the use of sustainable materials including Tencel fabric apparel.

Price: $

Ethics: Sustainable and recycled materials, carbon-neutral B-Corporation, fair labor, renewable energy

Location/Shipping: Sold from the US

Size Range: XS – 3XL

Shop All Birds Here

Tencel is one of the core fabrics at Neu Nomads. Neu Nomads only sources their materials from sustainable and renewable natural resources. Furthermore, all Neu Nomads products are manufactured in fair trade factories that pay fair wages and provide medical care. Here you can find Tencel fabric apparel that has been consciously designed and ethically made.

Price: $

Ethics: Woman owned, Eco-friendly  and plant based materials, responsible manufacturing

Location/Shipping: USA & EU locations, worldwide shipping

Size Range: XXS to 2XL

Shop Neu Nomads Here

It’s the transparency for me! Tripulse Official is an amazingly sustainable European brand that uses sustainably sourced Tencel for all their activewear. Their commitment to helping customers make steps towards a more sustainable world is evidenced by their dedication to sustainably sourced materials such as Tencel fabric.

Price: $

Ethics: Fair trade, sustainably sourced materials, woman owned business

Location/Shipping: Sold from Europe, worldwide shipping available

Size Range: XS-XL

Shop Tripulse Official Here

Poplinen is a U.S.-based brand that prides itself on championing women through sustainability and inclusivity. Their belief in equity for all is transcended in their fair labor practices and ethics. Poplinen’s clothing is made with premium fabrics such as Tencel to allow customers to be comfortable, confident, and sustainable from day to night.

Price: $

Ethics: Oeko-Tex Certified Fabrics, GOTS-Certified, Compostable and Recycled Packaging Materials, 1% for the Planet, Fair labor

Location/Shipping: Sold from L.A, California, ships international

Size Range: XS-3XL

Shop Poplinen Here

This was a mini guide on the Tencel Fabric.

Just to recap: Tencel is a leading sustainable fabric because it is made from Eucalyptus trees in a closed-loop process. The fabric is both silky and durable, but also biodegradable and more environmentally friendly than traditional cotton fabric. If you have any questions about Tencel fabric, be sure to drop them below in the comments!

Have you tried this fabric before? What do you think about it? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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