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Synthetic Fabrics vs Natural Fabrics

Synthetic Fabrics vs Natural Fabrics

Have you ever considered what makes up your activewear?

It’s something that’s always been central to us here at Asquith. From our beautiful Bambor® to our softest Tencel, our aim is for our fabrics to have the smallest ecological and most ethical impact possible. Whilst still being super soft, comfortable and non-toxic against your skin.

We all know that our skin is the largest organ and that it absorbs everything that goes against it, but what happens when the clothes that you wear in and out, each and every day are sitting upon your skin. Here we investigate the differences between synthetic fabrics vs natural fabrics and why natural fibres will always be our winner.


What are the differences between Synthetic Vs Natural?

The main difference that lies between synthetic and natural fabrics is their origin material. Natural fabrics come from plant-based sources such as organic cotton, plants and trees, while synthetic fabrics that are mainly made of lycra and nylon come from fossil fuels using high-temperature extraction processes. Fossil fuels, you heard us right, the same things that make petrol and are used to produce electricity and Vaseline...

Synthetic fabrics have a higher sustainable cost to the environment. They go through multiple chemical procedures which need additives to manipulate the material for production. Additives such as softeners, bleaches and detergents are heavily added in the production. These additives are often classified as toxic for the human body and when released into the environment they further pollute waterways and land.

These toxic additives and their processing procedures have been proven to be both carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting. This is unlike natural fabrics which do not need additional additives and chemicals, therefore are toxic-free.

Synthetic fabrics trap in bacteria and heat, which during a sweaty yoga class is not ideal. This is the opposite to natural fabrics that are naturally breathable and sweat-wicking as well as bring softer and more comfortable to the skin. Our bamboo activewear also has the benefit of being hypoallergenic with natural antibacterial properties that help to protect the skin barrier making them great for those with sensitive skin and other conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.


Where do Synthetics come from?

Synthetic fibres (man-man fibres) come from non-renewable resources from synthesised chemicals via non-renewable energy sources such as coal and crude oil. The fabrics are then created through a complex chemical process called polymerisation.

They are often sought after by big manufacturers and corporations for their cheaper manufacturing cost - perfect for high-production batches of fast-fashion clothing.


Why are natural fabrics better for the planet?

Natural fabrics hold many benefits over their man-made counterparts. Most natural fabrics are fully biodegradable and at the end of their life cycle, can be easily recycled and reused causing minimal additional environmental impact. This also means that your activewear won’t be causing any ecological harm unlike most synthetic-based activewear on the market.

Since they come from renewable sources, natural fabrics use less CO2 and reduce ocean pollution through their reduced manufacturing processes. Microplastics are dangerous pollutants which stem from synthetic fibres and release hundreds of dangerous microplastics into our water systems and our seas. These microplastics can be found coming off synthetic fibres such as nylon and lycra, both found in synthetic activewear.


Why are natural fabrics better for your skin?

The benefits of using natural fabrics against your skin are endless, but one of their main benefits is that they are hypoallergenic, making them perfect for those with sensitive skin conditions.

Particularly during the summer months, synthetic fabrics can cause rashes and irritation against the skin. Natural fabrics are heat responsive and will stay cool against your skin, naturally.

Natural fabrics are perfect for those going through the Menopause. When body temperature rises, the natural, breathable fibres in the fabric keep you cool. They allow for ventilation, are naturally temperature regulating and moisture-wicking , unlike synthetic fabrics which trap heat, sweat and bacteria and will only make your body temperature hotter.


What’s the future of natural fabrics?

There are many new and innovative natural fabrics entering the market, replacing old, synthetic-based options.

One of the main fabrics leading the way is mushroom leather, a natural, vegan alternative to leather. To make this innovative fabric, they take the mycelium which are fed until they are large enough to be harvested. Like the traditional material, mushroom leather is strong and durable but is extra breathable because of its plant-based origin. There are also more and more faux leathers being made from plants such as corn and cactus. These plant-based alternatives have been stated to reduce around 32% of plastic waste and reduce water consumption by 20% compared to traditional vegan synthetic leather.

Another exciting and innovative addition to the natural fabric market is Soy silk (or vegetable cashmere). This silk is a protein fibre made from soybean waste which is leftover from the production of soy-based food.


Tencel, one of our new fabrics is made from sustainable wood sources, primarily beech wood and harvested from sustainably managed forests.

Naturally breathable, the modal fibres are lightweight, smooth and soft to the touch, providing exquisite comfort for even the most sensitive skin.

Dyed using an eco-friendly process that embeds the colour pigments deep into the fibres, our Tencel styles retain their colour and vibrancy longer than traditionally dyed fabrics. They will also stay super soft even after repeated washing.

We believe that natural fabrics are the key to our future and with the climate crisis at the forefront of many minds, they are just one of the ways you can help to reduce your carbon footprint. By choosing natural fabrics, you support sustainable long-term production of these natural fabrics and help support your skin’s barrier to breathe without the addition of any toxic chemicals or additives.


You can find out more about our ethical activewear here...

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