Sustainable fabrics - The first step toward an eco-conscious industry?

Sustainable fabrics - The first step toward an eco-conscious industry?

Sustainable fabrics: The first step toward an eco-conscious industry?

I’m sure you’ve heard about the farm-to-table concept when dining out. But have you heard about the seed-to-sew or soil-to-skin idea? This idea has been popularized in recent years, especially with rising concerns around fashion-as-usual’s destructive impact on our planet and marginalized communities around the world. 

One of the most obvious and overlooked parts of the fashion supply chain is, of course, textiles. The seed-to-sew concept directs our attention to how our textiles are sourced and to become more conscious of the materials we purchase and put on our bodies. It’s an idea that is an invitation for us to imagine a closer relationship with the materials we put on our skin every day. 

Several brands and designers are responding to the planet’s need for sustainable fabrics and materials in hopes of minimizing their negative ecological impact. Thanks to the evolution of science and technology, we are now capable of producing high-quality fabrics and textiles from the most diverse (and sometimes unexpected) sources. Cork, pineapple leaves (Pinatex), hemp, bamboo (Bamboo linen; Bamboo lyocell), and even the banana plant (Bananatex) are now all praised for their textile-producing potential. However, while bombarded with all these new fabric options on our shelves, one may wonder “What makes a fabric sustainable?”.

A fabric can not be considered sustainable simply because it comes from eco-friendly - or recycled - fibers. 

Truly sustainable materials are consciously produced and carefully thought out every step of the way. Everything counts when it comes to reducing the environmental impact. From monitoring water waste, pollution levels, and dyeing procedures, to tracking cultivation and harvesting cycles to avoid soil damage, no step is too big or too small when it comes to sustainability. 

The human aspect of production is also extremely important, as sustainability goes way beyond “being green”. The term “handmade” often gets thrown around when it comes to garments. If you think about it, one way or another, every piece you own is probably made by hand, since machines are still not able to mimic human expertise when it comes to fabric production. 

This being said, the term “handmade” gains an entirely new meaning when talking about sustainability. At Istani,  we only consider garments to be truly sustainable when labor along the supply chain has also been compensated and treated fairly. 

To sum up, we define sustainable fabrics as those which are:

  • Produced without any toxic chemicals;
  • Contributing to reduced pollution levels;
  • Reducing  water - or material - waste;
  • Defend ethical sustainability. 

Taking all these factors into account, which fabrics can we consider to be the most sustainable and eco-conscious?


Organic cotton

Currently, organic cotton is one of the most natural fabrics available, since it is mostly grown without pesticides or chemicals. Ecologically speaking, organic cotton farming uses 62% less energy than any other fabric and 88% less water than regular cotton. 

Organic hemp

Technically, hemp is considered a carbon-negative raw material, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. Due to it being naturally sun-protective, antimicrobial, and harder to grow, hemp tends to be slightly more expensive than other fabrics. However, its durability and quality certainly pay off.

Bamboo linen (aka Organic bamboo)

Bamboo is a particularly great source of fiber since we don’t need to kill the plant itself when harvesting it. This means the plant can regrow and renew itself very quickly, increasing possible production levels without impacting the planet. 


Coming from a cork oak tree, which needs to be harvested to extend its life, cork works as a carbon sink, since the tree consumes more carbon dioxide than most types of trees. The use of this type of fabric is especially popular within the vegan community, since it is 100% animal-free, and contributes to the thriving of several ecosystems.


Made strictly from pineapple, this material has quickly become a great replacement for leather. This food byproduct is essentially produced from the leaf part of the fruit, which would end up burnt otherwise. The only downside to this fabric is some brands may use non-biodegradable resins to top it off, which sort of defeats the purpose. So our advice would be to read your labels when purchasing Pinatex garments. 


Created by the Swiss brand QWSTION, Bananatex is the first-ever durable fabric made 100% from banana plants. Its sustainability factors are undeniable, as the plant (cultivated in the Philipines) is said to be completely self-sufficient, and requires no pesticides or fertilizers.

Overall, Bananatex has the most potential to become a truly circular alternative to all synthetic fabrics. 

Now that you know what to look for in your next shopping adventure, we hope you join us in our journey toward turning fashion into a much more sustainable industry. Turn every single garment you own into a token of hope for our planet and allow eco-consciousness to fill the blank spaces in your closet. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.