Natural Fiber Clothing: All the Essentials You Need to Know

By selecting garments made from organic and responsibly sourced natural fibers, consumers can protect the environment and promote a fashion industry that is ethical, sustainable, and capable of leaving a positive legacy.

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Natural Fiber Clothing: All the Essentials You Need to Know

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Key takeaways

  • Natural fiber clothing offers a sustainable alternative to synthetic materials.
  • Natural fiber clothes provide benefits like breathability, comfort, and durability.
  • Opting for natural fiber clothing supports responsible brands and their commitment to sustainability, fair trade, and ethical practices.


In an age where disposable fast fashion reigns supreme, a counter-movement has been taking root in the world of apparel. Natural fiber clothing, once considered a niche choice, has emerged as a sustainable and stylish alternative that resonates with conscious consumers. From plant-based natural fibers like cotton and hemp to animal-based fibers like silk and wool, natural fibers are gradually returning to wardrobes.

In this article, we'll delve into the captivating realm of natural fiber clothing, exploring its essence and why consumers are increasingly gravitating toward it. Moreover, we'll explore some of the top natural fiber clothing brands leading the charge toward a more sustainable fashion industry.

What Is Natural Fiber Clothing?

Natural fiber clothing includes garments made from materials derived directly from nature, such as plants or animal fibers. These fibers undergo minimal processing and are more eco-friendly than synthetic fabrics. Next, we’ll explore the two types of natural fibers: plant-based and animal-based natural fibers.

Plant-Based Natural Fibers

Plant-based fibers are derived from various plant parts, including seeds, stems, and leaves. These fibers offer an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic materials. Here are some common plant-based natural fibers used in the textile industry.


Cotton is the most commonly grown and widely used fiber worldwide (Kupfer, 2019). Its softness, breathability, and absorbency make it a popular fabric option for a wide range of garments, such as T-shirts, jeans, towels, and bed linens.

However, while cotton offers many benefits, it’s a pesticide-heavy crop. It accounts for 16% of all the insecticides and 7% of all the herbicides used globally — more than any other crop (The World Counts, n.d.). Opting for organic cotton has a lesser negative impact on the environment.    


Linen is a lightweight and breathable natural fabric made from the flax plant. Flax cultivation requires minimal chemical inputs and water, making linen a more sustainable choice compared to cotton. Linen also possesses exceptional cooling properties, making it an excellent choice for summer clothing and hot regions. 


Hemp is a fast-growing plant that requires little water and no pesticides, making it highly sustainable. Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp is an incredibly tough, durable, and breathable fiber. It’s also a versatile fiber that can be used to make various clothing items, ranging from jeans and T-shirts to bags and shoes.


While bamboo is technically a type of grass, its fibers have gained popularity among textile manufacturers. The bamboo plant grows rapidly and requires minimal water, pesticides, or fertilizers. Plus, its softness, breathability, and absorbency make it a popular fabric option among consumers. 

However, bamboo is rarely used to manufacture textiles on its own. It’s typically combined with viscose to create bamboo viscose — a semi-synthetic fabric. Manufacturing bamboo viscose often requires plenty of water, and it generates lots of toxic waste.  As a result, despite being a plant-based natural fiber, bamboo isn’t as sustainable as other plant-based fabrics like linen or hemp.

Animal-Based Natural Fibers

Animal-based natural fibers are derived from animal sources such as sheep, silkworms, and goats. Like plant-based fibers, these fibers offer an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fibers. Here are some common animal-based natural fibers used in the textile industry:


Wool is the most popular animal-based natural fiber (Möller, 2012). It's derived from the fleece of sheep and other animals like goats and alpacas, and it's highly durable. It also offers excellent breathability thanks to the presence of natural crimps that create air pockets. Generally, wool is used in knitwear, outwear, and cozy winter garments.


Silk is a natural protein fiber primarily obtained from silkworms. Besides silkworms, other animals that produce silk include spiders, moths, wasps, butterflies, bees, weaver ants, flies, beetles, hornets, and leafhoppers. Silk is prized for its lustrous sheen, softness, and smooth texture, and it's typically used in lightweight and luxurious garments like high-end dresses, blouses, and scarves.


Angora fibers come from the fur of Angora rabbits. Angora fiber is prized for its incredible softness and warmth, and Angora fibers are often blended with wool to create more elastic garments.

However, while animal fibers are a more sustainable alternative to synthetic materials, it's worth noting that some textile manufacturers have received heavy backlash, particularly concerning animal welfare. So, when shopping for garments, look for animal welfare certifications like the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) or the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to ensure that the animals are treated humanely and sustainably throughout the fiber production process.

Why Opt for Natural Fiber Clothing?

In an era dominated by synthetic materials and cheap fast fashion, switching to natural fiber clothing might seem counterintuitive. So, why should consumers ditch synthetic fabrics and inexpensive, fast fashion for natural fiber garments? Here are some compelling reasons why they should consider making the switch.


Natural fibers are renewable resources that come directly from nature. In comparison, synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are derived from non-renewable resources like petroleum that will eventually be exhausted.

Additionally, natural fibers are biodegradable. They decompose without causing long-lasting harm to the environment. In contrast, synthetic fibers can take hundreds of years to break down, contributing to the accumulation of microplastics in water bodies and landfills. In fact, it’s estimated that synthetic textiles account for nearly 35% of all microplastics in the world’s oceans (Common Objective, 2021).

By opting for natural fibers, consumers can minimize their ecological footprint and promote a more sustainable textile industry.

Breathability and Comfort

Natural fibers offer better breathability than synthetic fabrics. Fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk are highly breathable, keeping the body cool. This quality makes them ideal for warm climates.

Natural fiber clothes also tend to be softer and gentler on the skin than synthetic materials, offering a cozier fit.


Natural fiber clothes, particularly those made from wool and hemp, offer excellent durability. They can withstand the test of time and repeated wash and wear, reducing the need for frequent replacements. This longevity not only saves money but also reduces the environmental impact associated with the production and disposal of clothing.


Natural fibers are better for people with sensitive skin compared to synthetic fibers. Natural fibers are gentle on the skin, unlike synthetic materials like elastane, polyester, and nylon, which irritate the skin. This quality makes them perfect for people with allergies or skin conditions like eczema. However, it's worth noting that wool can irritate delicate skin.

Ethical Production

Many sustainable fashion brands adopt ethical practices during production. When buying natural organic clothes, look for garments with fashion eco-labels like the Fairtrade symbol, Oeko-Tex® certification, or the Bluesign label.

Top Sustainable Clothing Brands

As more consumers become conscientious about their fashion choices, many brands have emerged as leaders in producing sustainable clothing. These brands prioritize ethical sourcing, eco-friendly practices, labor and animal welfare, and innovative designs that cater to conscious consumers. 

Here are some notable brands that are transforming the sustainable fashion industry: 


Tentree is a brand dedicated to sustainability and environmental conservation. They are known for their commitment to planting trees for every product sold and offer a variety of garments made from natural fibers like organic cotton and hemp. They also hold B Corp and Climate Neutral certifications.

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher is a famous fashion brand renowned for its dedication to sustainable and ethical fashion. The brand primarily uses natural fibers such as organic cotton, linen, silk, and responsibly sourced wool.


Rawganique is a brand that produces organic, vegan, and chemical-free clothing. They specialize in garments made from natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, and hemp.


(formerly Synthetic Organic Clothing) focuses on creating comfortable and versatile clothing using GOTS-certified organic cotton with a fantastic line on women's organic cotton clothing. The brand emphasizes transparency, fair labor practices, and minimizing environmental impact. 

Wolven Threads

Wolven Threads is a brand that combines fashion with eco-consciousness. They specialize in activewear and swimwear made from sustainable fabrics like recycled polyester. They hold the 1% for the Planet, Climate Neutral, and Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certifications.


What’s the primary difference between natural and synthetic fibers?

Natural fibers are obtained from natural sources, such as plants or animals. On the other hand, synthetic fibers are artificial and are created through chemical processes. They are typically derived from petrochemicals like crude oil or natural gas.

What’s sustainability in the textile industry today?

Sustainability in the fashion industry involves various practices and initiatives aimed at minimizing the environmental and social impact of textile production. Some key aspects of sustainability in the textile industry include using eco-friendly materials, minimizing energy and water usage, and promoting fair labor practices.

What’s the difference between sustainable and fast fashion?

Sustainable clothes are generally made using eco-friendly techniques and designed to last longer. On the other hand, fast fashion garments are typically made using non-recyclable materials or materials that are difficult to recycle. Fast fashion clothes are also cheaper to produce, but they usually wear out faster than sustainable garments.

What’s the difference between conventional and organic cotton?

Conventional cotton is generally cultivated using agricultural practices that rely heavily on artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Conversely, organic cotton is grown using methods that prioritize sustainability and avoid the use of harmful chemicals.

Is organic cotton clothing better than regular cotton clothing?

Clothes made from organic cotton are generally better than regular cotton ones because they are softer, tougher, and more breathable than conventional cotton clothes.


The resurgence of natural fiber clothing represents a transformative shift in the fashion industry, where sustainability, comfort, and conscious choices are at the forefront. From plant-based fibers like organic cotton and hemp to animal-based ones like silk and wool, natural fibers offer various benefits that appeal to both the wearer and the environment.

By selecting garments made from organic and responsibly sourced natural fibers, consumers can protect the environment and promote a fashion industry that is ethical, sustainable, and capable of leaving a positive legacy for posterity.


Kupfer, M. (2019, August 22). Natural Fibres and the World Economy July 2019 - Renewable Carbon News. Renewable Carbon News.

The World Counts. (n.d.).

Möller, M. (2012). Natural Fibers. In Elsevier eBooks (pp. 267–280).

‘Bamboo’ Fabrics. (2023, March 28). Consumer Advice.,or%20viscose%20using%20toxic%20chemicals.

Objective, C. (2021, November 26). Fashion’s Impact On The World’s Oceans. Common Objective.

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Alyciah Beavers

Committed to promoting sustainability and am pleased to have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with you.

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