Tencel has a number of different qualities that make it a worthy choice:
Tencel is made from cellulose in wood pulp, which is harvested from tree-farmed trees. Cellulose is the natural polymer that makes up the living cells of all vegetation. The tree farms have been established on land unsuitable for food crops or grazing.
The fiber is produced via an advanced ‘closed loop’ solvent spinning process, with minimal impact on the environment and economical use of energy and water. The solvent used in the process is toxic but 99% is recovered and continually recycled.
Production plant emissions are significantly lower in comparison to many other human-made fiber operations.
The closed loop process process used to manufacture Lyocell fiber does not require bleach, which is commonly used in the production of other fabrics. Tencel/Lyocell products contain no free chlorine and are sold as “TCF – products”. The European Union awarded this process the Environmental Award 2000 in the category “technology for sustainable developments”.
It is difficult for dyes to bind to Lyocell fiber, and some manufacturers might use a variety of chemical processes, enzyme baths, and dye treatments which might, or might not, be eco-friendly. People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity should read the specific manufacturer information when purchasing garments made of Lyocell.
This versatile fiber lends itself to a broad range of men’s and women’s clothing styles, as well as to upholstery fabrics and home-fashions in sheets and towels. In blends, the natural qualities of Tencel complement those of wool, cotton, linen, silk, polyester, elastane, and nylon, and enhance their inherent properties.
Blended with wool, Tencel introduces new softness and drape; blended with cotton and linen, it increases suppleness and lustre. With stretchy fabrics, it lends a quality of softness and shape retention.
Garments made from Tencel include pants, shirts, suits, skirts and leggings. New garment applications are being introduced with advances in fiber enhancements and blends.
One of the properties of Tencel is its potential to fibrillate. Fibrillation is where the wet fiber, through abrasive action, develops micro-fibrils (or tiny fibers) on its surface (see micro photo, right top). By manipulating or controlling fibrillation, a variety of different fabric finishes may be achieved.
The surface fibers of standard Tencel are fibrillated to produce a luxurious, soft-touch fabric with a peachskin surface. This is the usual recognized quality of the fiber.
A more recently developed fiber, Tencel A100, has a non-fibrillated surface finish. (see photo, right bottom) Developed primarily for the knitwear market, A100 has a subtle surface lustre, excellent print definition and high tear and burst strength for woven and knitted fabrics. A100 also enhances laundering performance and shape retention of garments using this fiber.