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Viscose – Versatile textile fibre from India

Viscose is a semi-synthetic textile fibre based on the natural raw material cellulose. In the past, viscose was often referred to as artificial silk – however, this term is misleading and is no longer used today. Most of the viscose produced worldwide is used in the textile industry – where viscose fabrics are appreciated for their many positive properties. We, too, have long since recognised the advantages of viscose. That is why we will introduce you to this interesting textile fibre in more detail below. Of course, we also have the question in mind whether viscose is a sustainable raw material or not.

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What is viscose?

Viscose (formerly rayon) is a semi-synthetic chemical fibre obtained from the sustainable raw material cellulose. Through the use of chemicals, the cellulose is transformed into a tough mass, which in turn can be spun into a fibre. Viscose fabrics are predominantly used to make clothing because they are considered kind to the skin and are very light. Typical examples of clothing made of viscose include our harempants.

One fabric – many (sustainable) faces

Viscose is a fabric that got its name because of its unusual manufacturing process. This was invented as early as the 19th century and has been continuously developed ever since. Today, there are many sub-types of viscose – including Modal, Lyocell or Tencel or Lenpur viscose, for example. They are all considered to be extremely sustainable semi-synthetic fibres, for example because they are only made from FSC-certified cellulose or because no hazardous solvents are used in their production.

How is viscose made?

Quite similar to cotton or jute, where textile fibre production has to be harvested first, viscose production also starts with a harvest. However, this looks somewhat different. After all, viscose is made from cellulose – a sustainable raw material obtained from wood such as eucalyptus, bamboo, beech or spruce. If you only consider the raw material, viscose can therefore be described as a natural fibre. This is in complete contrast to polyester or acrylic, which consist entirely of synthetic raw materials. However, viscose is still not a purely natural fibre. Why is that? This becomes clear in the further course of production.

Here, the sustainable raw material cellulose is processed in various stages into the so-called spinning solution, viscose. We cannot describe the exact steps that are required here. Too many different processes are involved in converting cellulose into viscose. This much is certain, however: some chemicals are used in the production of viscose and the spinning solution has to mature several times before it can finally be spun into fibres. Because it is only through the use of chemicals that cellulose becomes a textile fibre, we speak of a semi-synthetic chemical fibre and not a natural fibre.

Where is viscose produced?

Since the sustainable raw material on which viscose is based grows basically all around the globe, viscose fabrics could theoretically be produced anywhere in the world. In practice, however, this is not the case. After all, viscose production requires numerous machines, so-called viscose production lines. The largest of these are in India and Indonesia. But there are also smaller production facilities in Europe – especially in the Czech Republic and Germany.

What are the properties of viscose?

Viscose is used in particular for the production of light and airy summer trousers and dresses, blouses or even sports and yoga clothing. And for good reason: viscose is considered to be extremely absorbent – ideal when you start to sweat. But that is not the only positive property of viscose. We reveal what else viscose fibres have to offer:

  • very easy to clean
  • pleasantly soft feeling on the skin
  • breathable
  • cooling effect for the skin
  • allergy-friendly
  • flowing drape

Apart from the many attractive viscose properties, we do not want to conceal a small shortcoming of this fabric: Since clothing made of viscose proves to be extremely absorbent, its drying time is prolonged.

Additional info: How should you wash and care for viscose?

As a hybrid of chemical and natural fibres, viscose is actually relatively easy to care for. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to a few details when washing and caring for it: Viscose fabrics tend to shrink a little when washed. We therefore recommend that you avoid washing at temperatures above 40°C. Ideally, you should wash summer trousers or yoga clothing made of viscose at a maximum of 30 °C – this protects the fabric and the environment. Also important: Viscose should not be put in the dryer, as the fabric wrinkles easily. It is therefore better to dry clothes made of viscose on a hanger.

How sustainable is viscose?

Viscose is often described as sustainable because the sustainable raw material cellulose is used for its production. However, viscose is still far from being a natural fibre, because it is, after all, a semi-synthetic chemical fibre. But how sustainable is viscose exactly? That depends: The production of viscose fabrics usually involves a considerable chemical cocktail that is anything but environmentally friendly. Although the toxic substances are completely removed before the fibre is processed into clothing, the workers in the factories and the environment in the producing countries can suffer from the consequences of the chemicals used.

All the better, that more and more companies and manufacturers are concerned about producing viscose as sustainably as possible. This is not only reflected in the environmentally friendly viscose representatives such as Modal or Lyocell, but also in the ever decreasing use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and health. We and our partners are also campaigning for a more sustainable production of viscose. Apart from that, the textile fibre can already score points in terms of sustainability with the following details:

  • Based on a natural, renewable raw material
  • viscose production does not require any mineral oil at all
  • no use of pesticides in the cultivation of raw materials

What are the most common products made of viscose?

Among other things, viscose is used as a material for the manufacture of medical products such as bandages. However, the amount of viscose that is processed into fabrics and used in the textile industry is much larger. We have already described the positive properties of viscose clothing – now we would like to introduce you to a few typical items of clothing made from this high-quality material.

Light summer trousers in viscose

Viscose clothing inspires with its extremely low weight as well as its cooling effect. No wonder, for example, that our comfortable Aladdin trousers are made of this fabric. Viscose clothing is flowing, feels pleasantly light on the skin and is also breathable. Thanks to the generous cuts, you also enjoy maximum freedom of movement and don’t get sweaty even in the summer heat. Speaking of sweating – viscose is very absorbent and therefore guarantees the best wearing comfort at all times.

Viscose sports and yoga wear

Sports and yoga clothing is increasingly made of viscose. On the one hand, because of the fabric’s absorbency – after all, some asanas make you sweat a lot. On the other hand, because yoga clothing made of viscose is wonderfully soft and loose. It gently caresses your body during practice without constricting you. The same applies to other sportswear, where viscose is often mixed with other materials to improve the functional properties.

Conclusion: Viscose is a textile fibre that offers many advantages

Especially for summer clothing, we don’t want to miss out on viscose: The cooling effect on the skin and the outstanding wearing comfort are convincing all along the line. Another plus point: viscose is obtained from a sustainable raw material. Although it is not a natural fibre, it is far from being a completely synthetic product. Nevertheless, the use of chemicals in viscose production must be viewed critically. That is why we attach great importance to long-term and trusting partnerships – because we are convinced that a conversion of the current production processes to more (environmentally) friendly variants will only succeed if we work together and all pull together in a motivated manner.

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