A little fiber science

Natural fibers

When plants grow, a chemical process takes place that forms cellulose from sunlight and water through the chlorophyll of the leafy green, the carbon dioxide in the air. This is the main component of cotton and linen. The fibres of animal origin, with the exception of silk, are animal hairs which grow as fur and are shorn or plucked from the skin. Silk, on the other hand, originates from the gland of a caterpillar. All fibres are spun into yarns and finally woven or knitted into fabrics.


The cotton plant is a shrub (USA, Egypt). The fibres of the cracked bolls are the spinning material. These fibres consist of 90% cellulose. 

Differences in quality result from fiber length and fineness: the longer the fiber, the more uniform and durable; and the finer the fiber, the softer and more comfortable it is. There are also differences in color, luster, and purity of the fiber. Cotton is universally used for all clothing. It is used either alone or in blends with chemical or other natural fibers. The swelling capacity of the fiber allows for high moisture absorption. Cotton cannot store heat, although brushed cotton has certain heat retention properties.

Selling points for cotton: 

  • pleasant on the skin, breathable 
  • Body moisture is quickly absorbed
  • hard-wearing 
  • very good to maintain, also washable at higher temperatures 
  • nowadays usually equipped against shrinkage 
  • no static charge 
  • herbal natural product


Linen is obtained from flax (Italy). The extraction is complex and expensive. The linen fibres consist of 70% cellulose, the rest is plant glue. Both components give the fiber stiffness, strength, luster and absorbency.

Linen is processed alone or in blends with other fibres. The main products are sporty jackets, skirts and trousers, but also suits and jackets. Linen is firmer to the touch and cooler than cotton. It has a high and fast moisture absorption, the fibre structure cannot store heat. The fashionable crease effect is due to the fibre. Wrinkles and creases can only be removed by ironing when damp or with steam. 

Selling points for linen: 

  • Fabric structure appears sporty-rustic 
  • the fabric feels smooth and cool 
  • high colour brilliance
  • high moisture absorption 
  • fashionable crease effect (noble crease) 
  • insensitive to dirt
  • herbal natural product 
  • Cultivation hardly harmful to the environment


Man-made fibres

The starting material for cellulose fibres is a natural product, usually wood. The starting material for synthetic fibres is obtained by processing fossil raw materials (oil).
The original basis of synthetic fibres is formed by earth-historical plants. Synthetic fibres are produced by pressing the basic mass through a nozzle. They are then spun into yarns.


Viscose consists - like cotton - of cellulose, i.e. a natural basic material. However, since viscose is produced chemically, we are not allowed to call it a natural fibre (according to the Textile Labelling Act).

Viscose is processed either alone or in blends with natural or other man-made fibres. It is used quite universally in clothing. A very fine and uniform fibre can be spun from the base fabric. This gives the soft handle and flowing drape of a fabric made of viscose. The high moisture absorption of the fiber (much higher than cotton) allows good dyeing and printing; therefore, fabrics made of viscose are often more color-intensive than those made of pure cotton. The reaction to moisture and the low price also make viscose particularly suitable for lining fabrics. 

Sales arguments for viscose: 

  • good colour and light fastness 
  • soft, cuddly, skin-friendly 
  • fast and high moisture absorption 
  • in blends with cotton or polyester well washable 
  • silky sheen of the fabric and beautiful fall 
  • consists of natural raw material


Modal is often called modified (improved) viscose, because it is produced according to a modified viscose - spinning process. The fiber is softer and at the same time more stable. Compared to viscose, modal has improved tear and abrasion resistance. Modal fibres also have similar properties to cotton and are therefore often used in blends for high quality products. Here, modal gives cotton an elegant handle and fine sheen. Polynosic fibres are also modal fibres and must be labelled as such. 

A great advantage of modal fibre is its ease of care: in its undyed state it can even be boiled. That is why modal fibers are often found in the laundry sector.

Sales arguments for Modal: 

  • fine, soft and shiny 
  • colour-intensive 
  • very skin friendly and breathable 
  • easy to clean and keeps its shape 
  • Cellulose fibre (like viscose)



Lyocell (Tencel) is the latest development in the field of cellulose fibres. For the fiber, the cellulose is directly dissolved and spun by means of a non-toxic solvent (NMMO), whereby the solvent can be almost completely reused. The production is therefore particularly environmentally friendly. 

Due to its extraordinary stability and strength, Tencel is, after cotton, the first fibre with which the denim look can be achieved. The result is an outer fabric that has an amazing blue jeans look, but the feel and drape of washed silk. The fabric is durable and can easily be stone or sandwashed.

Tencel is also used in blends with natural fibres to improve the wearing properties.

Sales arguments for Lyocell/Tencel: 

  • cellulose fibre (like viscose), biodegradable
  • easy to clean and breathable 
  • skin-friendly soft and yet durable 
  • flowing, smooth fall 
  • subtle, silky sheen 
  • colour-intensive