Recently, the name Lyocell is popping up increasingly often.
Over the past couple of years, it has become a common ingredient in blended fabrics, especially with cotton and linen.
I first saw it in summer shirtings from the likes of Charles Tyrwhitt.
In the tailoring world, cut-length shirting fabric makers are starting to utilise it also.
Having seen the name pop up now and again but never hearing much about what was behind the name, I decided to look further into this new fibre.
Lyocell is the catch-all name for the fibre which was first introduced to me as Tencel; this being the name of the lyocell fibre manufactured by its primary maker Lenzing AG.
Like rayon, it’s a semi-synthetic fibre, rather than a fully synthetic material like polyester, made with a byproduct from wood cellulose.
It’s said to be more environmentally friendly than the likes of rayon, which despite being partly natural, is quite harmful to manufacture.
I was once told that rayon manufacturing is perceived as being so harmful that there is currently a moratorium on construction of new rayon factories, but was unable to substantiate that for the purposes of this article.
Unlike rayon, which is produced by significantly altering the chemical structure of cellulose, lyocell is made by solvent spinning, leaving the cellulose structure relatively unchanged.
An interesting passage from the website linked in the above sentence:
The manufacture of lyocell produces no harmful byproducts and is significantly less toxic and wasteful than the manufacture of other cellulosic fibers. Its principal ingredient, cellulose, is easily obtained from managed tree farms, and the industry has not been accused of poor forestry habits. The amine oxide solvent is non-toxic, and because it is almost completely recycled during manufacturing, it is not released into the environment. Lyocell fabrics are also naturally biodegradeable. Manufacturing lyocell is also environmentally sound because less water and energy is used than in the manufacture of other manmade fibers.Source
Having enjoyed the wearing of rayon shirts, especially in the form of aloha shirts, it seems that lyocell would be a good replacement for rayon in manufacturing of those styles.
Seeing that the lyocell fibre is hailed for being very breathable and moisture wicking makes it sound to be a promising ingredient in summer fabrics.
It’s something I’ll consider wearing, and try some cotton-lyocell blends in shirting over the coming year, to see how the structural integrity and stress bearing capability is.
We have some lyocell blended fabrics in the shirting cloth books at Beg Your Pardon, so I’ll use those to try this new fibre for myself.