Natural-fiber clothing no longer means itchy hemp or unflattering off-white clothing. More and more consumers are opting for top-quality natural-fiber clothing: breathable, chemical-free alternatives to man-made fabrics altered by harsh conventional dyes, wrinkle-free formaldehyde treatments and pesticides.
Fabrics are produced from fibers. Most modern clothing (Oracle's textiles experts say two-thirds) is produced from synthetic – aka, man-made – fibers. Natural-fiber clothing, on the other hand, is created from the naturally occurring fibers of plants and animals.
Examples of those derived from plants include vegetable fibers, such as cotton, jute, flax and hemp. Animal fibers include – among others – silk, wool, cashmere and mohair.
Popular with moms and their babies, organic cotton is grown without pesticides, growth regulators and synthetic chemical fertilizers. It's ideal for those with sensitive skin, and it's grown with utmost respect for the planet.
There's a growing demand, too, for soft, pliable bamboo clothing. Bamboo grows very rapidly, requires less moisture than most plants and is cultivated without pesticides and herbicides.
There's a misconception that natural-fabric clothing looks like unbleached cotton or baggy, beige hemp -- but actually, natural-fiber clothing is sold in a wide variety of colors and styles. The natural attributes of the fabric actually make it hold dye better than its man-made counterpart.
Only over the last century or two have synthetic processes been used to dye fabrics. For thousands of years before, however, natural dyeing processes enhanced the color of fabrics and garments.
With a renewed resolve to take better care of ourselves and Mother Earth, we find ourselves resorting to the old techniques that keep natural-fabric clothes, well, natural.
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