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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hu

SHADY.CLUB’S Guide to Sustainable Fashion: Materials Vocabulary

In the world of sustainable fashion, there are a lot of terms thrown around, and it can be overwhelming to keep track of what they all mean. To help make shopping for sustainable fashion easier and more accessible, we’ve put together a list of common terms you might come across and what they mean.


Synthetic: This refers to fabrics that are made from man-made fibers, such as polyester, nylon, and spandex. Synthetic fibers are not biodegradable, and they contribute to the pollution of oceans and other bodies of water.

Vegan leather: Vegan leather describes materials that look and feel like leather, but aren't made from animal products. This is often made with synthetic materials, but could also be natural. If the goal is to reduce your impact with vegan leather, it’s important to check whether or not your vegan leather is synthetic. If your goal is to avoid animal products, vegan leather may be a good option.

Organic cotton: This type of cotton is grown using methods that avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic cotton is healthier for the environment and the workers who produce it, making it a popular choice for sustainable fashion brands.

Linnen: Made from flax plant, a fast-growing and renewable resource, Linen is a natural fiber, like cotton.Because flax is one of the oldest sources of textiles it pre-dates synthetic additions, pesticides and chemicals, linen is one of the most sustainable fabrics you can choose.

Tencell/Lyocell: Lyocell (Tencel being the popular brand) is a semi-synthetic fiber used to make textiles for clothing and other purposes. It is a form of regenerated cellulose made by dissolving wood pulp and dry jet-wet spinning.

Silk: Silk is a natural protein fibre made from the silk worm, but the process of harvesting silk often involves the killing of worms causing controversy in its use and debate in its ethics.

You may have noticed we did not include certifications in this list. If you are interested in learning more about the most common certifications in the fashion industry, see our guide here or our guide to manufacturing vocabulary here.

By understanding these key terms, you'll be able to make informed decisions when shopping for sustainable fashion. At SHADE, we're dedicated to making sustainable fashion accessible and helping you find the best sustainable fashion options for your needs. Join the movement and become a part of our community today by joining our newsletter and signing up to use SHADE!


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