Nowadays, there is a great variety of animal, vegetal, man-made and synthetic fibers available, but none of them are perfect in one way or other. They all have some good, fair and poor technical characteristics. Man’s desire, to produce perfect fabrics or yarns resulted in the creation of “blends” – A mixture of two or more fibers that are spun together. Brands use blended fabrics – or yarns – to combine different fibers’ properties and :
- To improve the appearance of a fabric, such as texture, color, and tone
- To improve the quality of a fabric, such as durability, strenght, comfort, and texture
- To improve the ease of handling a fabric, such as to be sewed or retaining its shape
Here’s a breakdown of what the most common fibers bring to a blend:
- Spandex/Elastane adds elasticity and comfort,
- Polyester gives wash and wear benefits, increases wrinkle resistance, shape retention, durability
- Rayon improves moisture absorbency, attracts less static and adds luster.
- Acrylic improves softness
- Acetate adds luster, shine and improves drapeability.
- Cotton lessens static, increases absorbency, comfort, and dye-ability.
- Wool adds warm and bulk, helps retain shape, increases absorbency and wrinkle resistance.
- Silk adds comfort, luster, and prestige.
- Angora hair adds fluffiness.
However, most of the time, blends are used to reduce costs by mixing expensive natural fibers with synthethic and cheaper ones, thus producing lower quality garments (which are also hard to recycle, read here). For example, have you ever happened to see a “Wool Coat” that is not made with 100% wool or a “Wool Blend Coat” that contains just a small percentage of wool mixed with cheaper synthethics (Nylon, polyester, acrylic)? These are the things that consumers must watch out for, in order to be aware of what they buy and be sure to pay a fair price.