Fibers are classified as natural, synthetic (manmade), or a blend. Synthetic clothing is usually made up of a blend of polyester, nylon, spandex, or any other combination. They are made from chemical compounds and have different uses in the textile industry. Synthetic fibers were created as a cheaper and more mass-producible alternative to natural fibers.
Synthetic fibers do:
- offer moisture-wicking, making them a perfect choice for outdoor clothing
- offer more thermal protection than many natural fibers when layered to keep the cold out
- provide good elasticity
- have anti-wrinkle properties, which make them easy to care for
- offer more durability and are typically less expensive than natural fibers
- mimic natural fibers at a cheaper price point
- come in vast offers that make them more easily accessible than natural fibers
- have properties that make them stain resistant
- wash up well and have good resilience
- resist shrinkage
Synthetic fibers don’t:
- provide as much thermal protection if they’re a synthetic blend
- hold up well against extreme temperatures like irons and hot water
- hold up to fire and melt much quicker than natural fibers
- all absorb moisture well and some can become uncomfortable and heavy when wet
- treat the planet as kindly as natural fibers that are biodegradable or eco-friendly
- easily resist a static charge
- cater to those with allergies and can cause allergic reactions
- take dyes easily
Popular synthetic fiber examples:
- Rayon is an alternative to silk and wool
- Polyester has strength and durability make this fabric easy to care for
- Spandex is stretchy and moisture-wicking; This fabric is ideal for activewear, sport, and swimwear.
- Acrylic is an alternative to fur or wool that is cheaper but still warm
- Nylon is an alternative to silk that has abrasion resistance, strength, water-resistance, and more.
Synthetic fibers offer both benefits and disadvantages to consumers as well as the textile industry. Do you have a favorite synthetic fabric?