Designing with Acetate Fibre – Exploring the Sustainable and Aesthetic Benefits of a Bio-Based Fibre from Eastman Naia™
During a recent meeting with fibre brand Eastman Naia™ (part of the Eastman chemical company) I was asked what I knew of the raw material acetate? The first thing that came to mind was acetate film, however over the course of our meeting I discovered that acetate offers natural and sustainable benefits that extend way beyond film. Today Eastman serve many global markets including the textile industry.
I wanted to understand the Eastman Naia™ fibre not only in terms of its sustainable characteristics but also it's design potential. How could a dress or sports bra design, for example, benefit from using acetate fibre?
Below I explore three themes that resonate with me most as a fashion designer. If you are a fellow fashion designer nurturing a sustainable collection I hope my observations are insightful. Enjoy!
Eastman Naia™ are producers of a cellulosic fibre made from the wood pulp of fast growing eucalyptus and pine trees. The wood pulp is bought directly from plantations, dissolved using acetone and then dry spun in a process that uses less water and energy. The result is an infinity fibre that can be woven and knitted into a wide variety of textiles, including lace.
In terms of operations Eastman Naia™ have a near closed loop where all waste is either composted, re-used or sold to make something else. As a designer I feel more comfortable using bio-based fibres that are rapidly renewable and that contribute to a closed loop system using less water and energy. Being aware of our fibre and yarn sources and the environmental impact is something we are placing more importance on as designers and consumers.
Trees have the most sophisticated and evolved moisture management systems and because acetate fibre is derived from wood pulp it is also inherently equipped to suck up moisture and evaporate it quickly. These qualities can be found in materials made from acetate fibre making the garments naturally moisture wicking and breathable.
You can find equal if not superior performance from synthetic fabrics with finishes but you don’t get the bio-based element.
Some of the main ways I could imagine using acetate fibre is to improve the comfort of dress and coat linings. Most garments currently use 100% polyester which isn’t breathable or nearly as comfortable. I would also like to see if the Eastman Naia™ fibre could perform in seamless products like sports bras where moisture wicking and also odour control is a priority.
Due to acetate fibre being an infinity fibre it doesn’t pill, it also has good wrinkle recovery and doesn't require dry cleaning making it an easy-care material.
Whilst the concept of easy care has been around for a long time in fashion it has been mainly targeted at everyday garments, menswear or childrenswear. I would like to see more special occasion garments that can be washed at home reducing the need for chemical intensive dry cleaning. The fact that acetate fibre is used in many luxury label garments because of the perceived high value of its weighty drape and lustre means it could bridge these two concepts of luxury and easy care.
- Eastman Naia™ operate a near-closed loop where everything is re-used or recycled
- Eastman Naia™ fibre is a bio-based fibre boasting inherent moisture management along with comfort, easy-care and luxury qualities
- I believe acetate fibre can create luxury garment designs that can be home laundered reducing the need for chemical intensive dry cleaning
- Eastman Naia™ fibre could improve the wearing experience if applied to dress/coat linings and if technically possible could also make seamless products more sustainable.
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