What do we wear?
Surprisingly there are only a few different fibers in the clothes we wear on a daily basis.
Sometimes it is more difficult to understand the origin of the clothing fibers when companies use so called tradenames for the fibers. Some trade names have even become commonly used names for materials. Examples of these are nylon, spandex, and Tencel (whose official fiber names are polyamide, elastane, and lyocell.)
Next, we list the most common clothing materials, as well as a fun way to test the material of your clothing in the summer.
How to identify materials?
If you allow us to simplify things; sportswear e.g. those shiny and light running leggings are made from polyester or polyamide. The Poly- at the beginning of the name indicates that the material is made from oil. (Tough, there are better options for plastic materials that are made from recycled- or bio-based origin.) So, if you jump into the water wearing those leggings they will feel like swimwear. And when you take a few running steps, those trousers are already starting to feel dry.
As a mid-layer, you may use a wonderful merino wool set. Its surface is a bit fluffy, but it just makes the layer warm. (If wool is treated to withstand washing, it won’t even shrink easily). And if you jump into the lake wearing a woolen layer, the clothes might be a little heavy, but they’ll still warm you up wonderfully. But if your “wool layer” was acrylic, it won’t warm much when wet.
Cotton is quite easy to identify. The basic band shirt is 100 % cotton. It’s light, wrinkles a bit and if it gets wet it feels heavy. Due to its moisture absorption ability, it feels comfortable on the skin, because the sweat is absorbed into the fiber and the garment does not feel wet right away. And if you jump to the lake wearing really thick cotton jeans, they weigh a lot, because the fibers absorb a lot of water. And you can probably run the rest of the day before your pants feel dry.
Viscose, a fiber similar to cotton, is light as a clothing material and usually thinner than cotton. Viscose has a little more sheen than cotton because it is a man-made fiber, and the fiber is uniform and long. You recognize viscose at the latest after washing, when you lift a wet viscose shirt to dry, it feels hard and like wet paper. So, if you jump into the lake wearing a viscose shirt, you will notice that the material hardens up before it relatively quickly dries completely. (Other viscose-like materials include Modal and Triacetate.)
Of course, fiber materials are also mixed together. In workwear, cotton and polyester are usually combined to compensate for each other’s properties. Polyester brings lightness and strength, while cotton brings its moisture-absorbing soft feel. Sometimes expensive fiber is compensated with cheaper fiber. For example, wool-like synthetic fiber, i.e. acrylic, is added to wool to bring down the price and lighten the woolen garment. There are also so-called additive fibers, the most common example of which is elastane. It is added to the fibers to provide flexibility.
We believe that 90 % of these materials mentioned above are the majority of the materials in your wardrobe. Regarding clothes care. Viscose, some wools and silk are the only ones that should be washed gently and at a temperature below 40. At least in theory, other fibers can withstand a temperature of 60 degrees, whatever the label says.
Have a great summer!