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Lenzing Modal Explained

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | Features

Image: a beech tree forest, like those used to make Modal. Image source.

When we talk about sustainability, it can be difficult to know exactly what that word means. Environmentally speaking, this holistic term generally refers to the ability for something to be maintained at a certain level. But, as our desire to buy more clothes has increased over time, so has the ‘sustainability’ of most fibres decreased in tandem. Which means that even ‘natural’ fibres such as conventionally grown cotton have now become some of the least sustainable products on the market. This is where Austrian company Lenzing comes in, though. Responsible for creating genuinely sustainable fibres such as Tencel and Modal, Lenzing has revolutionised the fashion industry with its sustainable harvesting methods over recent years.

While Tencel is perhaps the most widely recognised Lenzing product, though – one that is now used by a number of big-name brands – there is still a fair bit of confusion around what Lenzing Modal actually is. Simply put, modal is a semi-synthetic cellulose fibre that is made by spinning reconstituted cellulose, usually from beech trees. And, according to Lenzing, it is also produced using the Edelweiss "symbiotic" production process. Which means that the raw material (pulp) is processed at the same site as the modal fibre itself, allowing Lenzing to minimise its use of energy and other such resources.

So why beech trees in particular, then? Because, as Lenzing explains, “the way that beech trees grow is something truly special. They multiply by ‘rejuvenation’ which means that the trees propagate by themselves.” When grown using sustainable harvesting methods, the wood from this tree represents a much more sustainable option than other thirsty plants such as cotton. This is because no artificial irrigation or planting is required to grow Beechwood and Lenzing is committed to using only wood from forests that apply prevailing forestry legislation and sustainability methods.

Okay, so Modal is a pretty awesome choice in terms of planetary impact, then. But with all of those technicalities aside, what else makes this fibre so special? First and foremost, it is the fact that Modal is just so damn soft against the skin. This is the reason why the fabric is so often used in products such as underwear, pyjamas and towels – all those that tend to get up close and personal with our skin. And it is also the reason that our Well Made Clothes x NICO collaboration – which is appropriately dubbed The Garden – is made entirely from sustainable Lenzing Modal, just like all of NICO’s responsible lingerie. Because, at the end of the day, who wants to wear nasty synthetics or pesticide-laden fabrics right next to their skin? 

With all of that said, though, it’s important to remember that material content of your garments is just one part of sustainability overall. Another key aspect is how we shape our shopping habits, as well. So while it is undeniably great to see influential companies like Zara forge partnerships with Lenzing, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we should be consuming Modal – or any fabric, for that matter – at the rate of fast fashion. Ultimately, this represents an inherently unsustainable approach, because when anything is pushed to excess, it can still have a negative impact on the planet. So in order to truly revolutionise the fashion industry, then, we need to shop fewer products, while also making sure that the materials of said products count.


You can shop the full Well Made Clothes x NICO collaboration, The Garden over here.

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