Whether you are aware of the latest fashion trends or not, perhaps you have already seen the terms "TENCEL™" or "lyocell" used in the composition of the clothes you have purchased.
These two terms designate, in fact, one and the same material, the first being just the registered trademark of the Austrian group Lenzing and the second a generic term which designates a type of cellulosic fiber made from wood. To find out more about it, follow us on the eucalyptus trail.
Tencel™ lyocell: when ecology meets innovation
Tencel™Lyocell fiber, what is it exactly?
Lyocell was first developed in 1988 by the British company Courtaulds Fibers Inc. It is part of the so-called artificial fibers, the raw material of which is natural, but transformed by man. The term lyocell was born from the juxtaposition of the first syllables of the words "freeze-drying" and "cellulose".
If this corresponds well to the textile fiber, you can also meet the latter under the name of "TENCEL™Lyocell" which corresponds to the trademark registered by the Austrian company Lenzing AG, which bought the patent from Courtaulds Fibers Inc. Lenzing AG is currently one of the world leaders in the production of lyocell which reached, in 2018, 400,000 tons worldwide. Moreover, many observers predict that this quantity should double in the next ten years.
How is lyocell made?
The first step in making lyocell is to harvest the wood, which comes largely from eucalyptus. However, it is also possible to produce it from birch or oak. The wood is then mixed with NMMO (N-methylmorpholine N-oxide). This organic, biodegradable compound has the ability to dissolve cellulose while preserving its chemical structure.
The solution obtained, which bears the name of "dope", is in liquid and sticky form. This is then heated and passed through a solvent: amine oxide, non-toxic and which will transform it into fibres. These will be dried so that they can then be woven to form the lyocell-based fabric.
Lyocell: an eco-responsible fiber
How is lyocell more environmentally friendly than other textile fibres?
TENCEL™lyocell is a naturally biodegradable fiber which can therefore also be composted under all conditions (domestic, industrial compost, fresh and sea water within 12 to 16 weeks). However, this is not the only reason that makes it more environmentally friendly than other textile materials.
Indeed, its manufacturing process is comparable to a closed loop. This means that it does not create by-products. The NMMO solvent, in particular, can be reused up to a proportion of 99%, and this, almost ad vitam æternam. Then, from the arrival of the wood at the production site to the carding (untangling) of the fibres, only two and a half hours are spent. This speed implies a reduced need for energy and water. By way of comparison, it only takes 1,000 liters to produce 1 kilo of TENCEL™Lyocell, compared to 5,000 for 1 kilo of cotton.
Another ecological aspect is based on the fact that the fiber comes from eucalyptus wood. However, it is a tree that grows very quickly and does not need irrigation or pesticides to develop. Moreover, its yield is 10 times higher than that of cotton. For example, 6 m² of culture is enough to produce 10 T-shirts in TENCEL™Lyocell.
In addition, the raw material is ethically sourced, that is to say that the forests from which it comes are managed in a sustainable way. It is therefore labeled 100% FSC (for "Forest Stewardship Council") or/and PEFC (for "Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), which guarantees, among other things, that its extraction preserves the biodiversity.
What are the qualities of lyocell compared to other fibers?
Soft and unfavorable to the development of bacteria
In addition to being an environmentally friendly fiber, lyocell is an extremely soft material to the touch and much smoother than cotton which can sometimes have a slightly rough side. In addition, since the fiber is hydrophobic, water is quickly evacuated and bacteria have no favorable ground to develop there . Thus, since they cannot attach to the lyocell, this protects you from the development of unpleasant odors. For the same reason, limestone does not cling to it. As a result, your garment will keep its silky appearance for a long time and will not run the risk of becoming rough as cotton does over time.
Thermo-regulating and wrinkle-resistant
In addition, the fiber has the ability to effectively regulate perspiration, as it absorbs and evacuates it very quickly. So even during your intensive sports sessions, you keep the pleasant feeling of having dry skin. On the other hand, like linen or wool, lyocell also has the advantage of being a thermoregulator. That is to say, it will keep you warm if it is cold and cool you when the outside temperatures are high. Finally, a TENCEL™Lyocell fabric wrinkles less than cotton and can be washed at 60°C, although a lower temperature should be preferred to keep all the characteristics of its fibers intact and to save energy. .
Dressing in fabric made from Tencel™Lyocell: an approach that is both committed and modern
What types of garments is Tencel™Lyocell used for?
As the lyocell fabric has an appearance that is both fluid and light, it adapts particularly well to the manufacture of women's clothing such as blouses, dresses or even blouses. In addition, its fiber being very flexible, it adapts to all morphologies. Women will also appreciate the softness to the touch of lyocell when wearing lingerie made from this material. In addition, the resistance of this fiber and the fact that it can be washed at 60°C (in some cases) are also used to manufacture work clothes adapted to the requirements of the beauty and health sectors. Finally, its thermoregulatory and antibacterial characteristics are ideal for designing bed linen.
Men too can wear lyocell clothing
As we know today, clothing fashion is no longer the sole prerogative of women. The 21st century man chooses his outfits with care, whether to enjoy the comfort of a pleasant material during his sports sessions or to feel good in his clothes when he plans a cocooning weekend at home. At Talc, we believe in TENCEL™ for men! T-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts or even underwear ( briefs , boxers , underpants ) that take advantage of the antiperspirant and thermoregulatory qualities of this fiber.
A few words about the price of this material
While, due to their still uncommon manufacturing process and low production volume compared to other fibers, TENCEL™ garments are more expensive to purchase, their strength and durability can actually be compared to a long-term investment. In addition, you can only be seduced by the softness and comfort of this eco-responsible fabric. By opting for lyocell, you know that you are doing something for the planet, an additional reason to leave plenty of room for this fiber in your dressing room, which is far from having said its last word.
A lasting underlying trend?
Aware of the climate challenge and the significant share of the textile industry in terms of energy consumption and pollution, more and more consumers are looking for alternatives to traditional textile fibers and more robust clothing. To meet this growing demand and reach a younger clientele, more and more brands and retailers are offering ranges of clothing produced with more virtuous fibres, such as TENCEL™Lyocell.
These new materials are therefore no longer reserved only for eco-responsible niche brands, but now occupy a growing place in the ranges of ready-to-wear brands. At the same time, eco-responsible textile labels are becoming real criteria of choice for consumers and commercial arguments for brands. This is the case, in particular, of GOTS certification, a global standard including both social and ecological criteria for the various elements of the textile production chain.
Responding perfectly to this new consumer trend, there is no doubt that lyocell, like other textile fibers that are more respectful of the environment, has a bright future ahead of it.
Our models made with Tencel™ Lyocell: