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Intro

The rise of the athleisure trend and the blurred line between activewear and fashion has seen an increased use of stretch fabrics across all brands from high street to luxury.

Spandex, also known as elastane and lycra, remains the most commonly used stretch fibre - its stretchiness coming from long-chain synthetic fibres - often blended with polyester to create fabrics for activewear and swimwear.

Intro

The rise of the athleisure trend and the blurred line between activewear and fashion has seen an increased use of stretch fabrics across all brands from high street to luxury.

Spandex, also known as elastane and lycra, remains the most commonly used stretch fibre - its stretchiness coming from long-chain synthetic fibres - often blended with polyester to create fabrics for activewear and swimwear.

Environmental Impact

The Higg Index rates spandex's environmental impact the same as polyester with much of its impact coming from the use of fossil fuels, contributing to global warming, and the chemicals used in its production.

As spandex is generally blended with other fibres its use in fabrics also makes them more difficult to recycle.

Avoiding spandex may be possible through fabric construction to give stretch without the need for its elasticity but innovative, more sustainable, alternatives are also on the market.

Environmental Impact

The Higg Index rates spandex's environmental impact the same as polyester with much of its impact coming from the use of fossil fuels, contributing to global warming, and the chemicals used in its production.

As spandex is generally blended with other fibres its use in fabrics also makes them more difficult to recycle.

Avoiding spandex may be possible through fabric construction to give stretch without the need for its elasticity but innovative, more sustainable, alternatives are also on the market.

Stretch Yarns

Roica by Asahei Kasei

'Roica' is the most popular range from Japanese yarn producer, Asahei Kasei. It has two sustainable options available, which are used for various applications by brands such as Wolford (pictured) and Aubade for their hosiery and lingerie.

  • Roica EcoSmart EF Elastane was the world's first stretch yarn made from recycled polyester; and 
  • Roica V550 is an eco friendly spandex suitable for producing underwear, lace, and narrow fabrics.

Stretch Yarns

Roica by Asahei Kasei

'Roica' is the most popular range from Japanese yarn producer, Asahei Kasei. It has two sustainable options available, which are used for various applications by brands such as Wolford (pictured) and Aubade for their hosiery and lingerie.

  • Roica EcoSmart EF Elastane was the world's first stretch yarn made from recycled polyester; and 
  • Roica V550 is an eco friendly spandex suitable for producing underwear, lace, and narrow fabrics.
New from waste

Yarn producer, Sheiflex, have developed the world's first recycled spandex yarn made from production waste.

This revolutionary yarn can be found in Spanflex's CF-Eco fabric which is made from a blend of waste spandex and recycled polyester from plastic bottles - both of which are GRS certified.

New from waste

Yarn producer, Sheiflex, have developed the world's first recycled spandex yarn made from production waste.

This revolutionary yarn can be found in Spanflex's CF-Eco fabric which is made from a blend of waste spandex and recycled polyester from plastic bottles - both of which are GRS certified.

Energy efficient spandex


As well as being recyclable, S.Leisure by Singtex, claims to be 20% more energy efficient than conventional spandex.


Energy efficient spandex


As well as being recyclable, S.Leisure by Singtex, claims to be 20% more energy efficient than conventional spandex.


Stretch Fabrics


Vivify Textiles

Econyl Vita from Vivify is a blended stretch fabric made from recycled polyester from ocean plastic and Spandex.

Used widely by swimwear brands such as Halla Halla (pictured) and Rubymoon.

Compared to traditional stretch fabrics, Econyl Vita boasts 70% less energy usage in its production.

Stretch Fabrics


Vivify Textiles

Econyl Vita from Vivify is a blended stretch fabric made from recycled polyester from ocean plastic and Spandex.

Used widely by swimwear brands such as Halla Halla (pictured) and Rubymoon.

Compared to traditional stretch fabrics, Econyl Vita boasts 70% less energy usage in its production.

Carvico

Vita, Renew Prime, Revolutional Eco and Renew Cult from Italian mill Carvico are technical stretch fabrics made from blends including Econyl regenerated nylon.  

These fabrics are particularly suitable for swimwear as demonstrated by a large number of gym and swimwear brands including Adidas' Parley collection (pictured).

Carvico

Vita, Renew Prime, Revolutional Eco and Renew Cult from Italian mill Carvico are technical stretch fabrics made from blends including Econyl regenerated nylon.  

These fabrics are particularly suitable for swimwear as demonstrated by a large number of gym and swimwear brands including Adidas' Parley collection (pictured).

UK wholesaler

For those based in the UK, Freidman’s is a wholesaler of recycled nylon in a wide variety of colours. 

UK wholesaler

For those based in the UK, Freidman’s is a wholesaler of recycled nylon in a wide variety of colours. 

Organic stretch embroidery

Modespitz in Germany is one of the first suppliers of GOTS-certified organic stretch embroidery and lace. 

As a fourth generation family business, they are building on the innovative design approach upon which they were founded in 1897.

Organic stretch embroidery

Modespitz in Germany is one of the first suppliers of GOTS-certified organic stretch embroidery and lace. 

As a fourth generation family business, they are building on the innovative design approach upon which they were founded in 1897.

Stretch lace

ILUNA, Europe's largest lace producer, has been working to innovate in sustainable stretch lace for some time. 

Their recently launched 'Green Label' is a line that uses the Roica eco smart yarn - designed to recycle up to 60% of the waste created during production.

Stretch lace

ILUNA, Europe's largest lace producer, has been working to innovate in sustainable stretch lace for some time. 

Their recently launched 'Green Label' is a line that uses the Roica eco smart yarn - designed to recycle up to 60% of the waste created during production.

Certifications and tools mentioned in this guide

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) defines and establishes world-wide recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles.

The Global Recycled Standard from Textile Exchange certifies recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions.

The Higg MSI from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition scores materials on their environmental impact from raw material, through manufacture and finishing to the final fabric.

Certifications and tools mentioned in this guide

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) defines and establishes world-wide recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles.

The Global Recycled Standard from Textile Exchange certifies recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions.

The Higg MSI from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition scores materials on their environmental impact from raw material, through manufacture and finishing to the final fabric.

Fabric Switch: Sourcing Sustainable Stretch

A guide for designers looking to incorporate sustainable stretch fabric alternatives in their swimwear, activewear, lingerie, and more. Image: Rubymoon


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