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Viscose is my ultimate nemesis



My least favourite textile of all time, in all multiverses, is viscose. Its primary source is natural (cellulose from pine trees) then via several processes it is whipped into viscose, the wispy fly-away fabric we have come to know and, regretfully, buy today. My distaste for it is largely because it is prone to becoming misshapen during its initial wear or after one wash, and it just doesn’t provoke confidence in a second outing (unless mixed with elastane, but confidence is still low).


Call it bad luck or a rigorous washing regime, but it is the supervillain in my comic book universe. If you find viscose in the label of anything you want to buy, and you love the print, design and cut that much you still really want that item, by all means, buy it, but you might want to buy two or three replacements at the same time. I’m just saying have been warned. My best advice is to go to your closet and have a look at the labels which have viscose as the primary fabric, and see if it has done you proud thus far. If so, it is a miracle indeed, by way of a heavily treated textile. If not, it may be something to consider next time you are in the shops.


My distaste for viscose stems from the fact that not only does it lose its strength when wet (back to becoming misshapen after a wash); it is flammable and has poor crease recovery. It is like an enchantress, taking on different guises, posing as cotton, silk, velvet, and taffeta. Soaking up dyes to lure you in, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, with vibrant colours and prints, lit up like a house made of sweets. Once you’re sucked into buying it, though, the piece of clothing might, like the witch, find itself disposed of in the most heinous of ways – maybe not burnt alive in an oven, but there’s always the clothes-for-cash bin at 50p a kilogram. Its popularity, being in the top five most commonly used textiles in the world, means this is a PSA!


If the properties of viscose weren’t reprehensible enough, it is also a driver in the fast fashion industry – farms for viscose production are not only treated with harmful chemicals to increase yield but are also responsible for the destruction of woodland. When I was young (along with inventions like the wheel) it used to be an industry that would create demand with the right supply, but that ship has well and truly sailed. Now, the demand for this daily changing world of social media is causing supply to be the driver, and it is spilling over the proverbial edge and bleeding all over us all. As I said, totally your choice – but if you are looking for direct affordable alternatives, I would suggest that any alternative fabric would be an improvement.


To summarize:

Pros:

· It soaks up dyes well, so you can get awesome colours and prints

· 100% viscose is biodegradable (but rare in 100%)


Cons:

· It can be wispy and flyaway – can therefore look cheap

· Misshapes when wet, so when it is washed can lose the shape

· Poor crease recovery (can take a lot to iron)

· Often recommends dry cleaning only, so becomes more expensive than the price tag suggests

· Flammable

· Viscose is often blended with synthetics and therefore in such abundance not biodegradable

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