Ethical Fabric Guide: How to Choose Vegan Materials

Ethical Fabric Guide: How to Choose Vegan Materials

This ethical fabric guide will help you to understand which fabric fibres and textiles are obtained in an ethical, vegan way. Choosing vegan and ethical fabrics can be tough. With some traditionally non-vegan brands classing their items as ethical, as well as the rise in conscious materials referred to as vegan leather, it can be difficult to understand which fibres are truly ethical.

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A guide to choosing ethical fabrics

To use this ethical fabric guide, use this key to determine whether a fabric is vegan, not vegan or possibly both.


V – Vegan
N – Not vegan
V/N – Materials that can be made using either vegan or non-vegan materials.
 

Material Name                                    Fabric Description                  Ethical Status


Aba                                         N         Woven fabric, derived from goat and camel hair
Acrylic                                     V         Synthetic fabric
Aertex                                     V         Trademark name for a cotton fabric
Alpaca                                     N         Natural fabric fibre from an alpaca
Baize                                       V/N     Coarse felt-like fabric, used for covering pool/gaming tables.
Bamboo                                   V         Cloth made from bamboo yarn
Batiste                                     V         Light, translucent cotton fabric, often used for lingerie
Broadcloth                               V         Dense woven cloth, historically made from wool – now made from cotton or cotton blend
Brocade                                   N         Richly decorative fabric, often made in coloured silks
Buckram                                  V         Stiff cloth often used for bookbinding, made from cotton or linen
Bunting                                   N         Used for making flags, made from wool
Calico                                      V         Plain fabric, made from unbleached/unprocessed cotton
Cambric                                  V         White linen, finely woven
Camel hair                              N         Fabric made from real camel hair or camel hair blend
Camlet                                    N         Woven fabric made from goat/camel hair or wool
Canvas                                     V         Plain woven fabric, used for interiors
Cashmere                                N         Soft fibre made from the undercoat of cashmere goats
Cerecloth (altar cloth)             N         Waterproof waxed cloth, sometimes called “altar cloth”
Challis                                     V/N     Lightweight woven fabric. Originally made from silk/wool blend but now vegan variations are also available, made from cotton or rayon
Chambray (or Cambric)          V         Gingham cloth with a linen finish. Used for handkerchiefs, linens, or fabric for needlework
Chenille                                   V         Heavy fabric woven with chenille cord, used in bedspreads, carpets, rugs, etc.
Chiffon                                    V/N     Sheer lightweight fabric made from silk or cotton/other synthetic fibres
Chino                                       V         Often used for trousers, made from 100% cotton or cotton-synthetic fabrics
Chintz                                     V         Glazed cotton fabric in a bright colour or print
Ethical Fabric Guide
Cork                                        V         Derived from the soft bark of trees, often used as a vegan leather
Cord/ Corduroy                       V         A textile made from twisted fibres to form the unique cord pattern.
Cotton                                     V         Often used as thread for sewing. This is a plain soft white fibre.
Crepe                                      V/N     Soft fabric, traditionally made from wool but now made in synthetic forms.
Cretonne                                 V         Heavy cotton fabric, often used for embroidery work
Damask                                   V/N     Reversible woven textile, made from either silk/wool or synthetic fibres
Denim                                     V         Twill woven fabric, often used for dungarees and jeans
Dimity                                     V         Durable sheer cotton fabric with raised checks or stripes
Doeskin                                   N         Leather – the skin of a female fallow deer
Duck                                        V         Heavy cotton fabric, often used for tents and clothing
Duffel/duffle                            N         A heavy woollen fabric
Elastane                                  V         An elastic material made from polyester-polyurethane copolymer – more durable than elastic
Elastic                                     V         Stretchable, flexible material made from rubber or similar synthetic material
Etamine/etamin                      V         Light cotton fabric, often used as a curtain lining
Faille                                       V/N     A shiny fabric, often made from either wool/silk or cotton fabrc
Felt                                         N         Fleecy cloth fabric made from processed fur and wool
Flannel                                    V/N     Soft fabric made from either wool or yarn or cotton/synthetic fabric
Flannelette                              V         Light, soft fabric – vegan imitation of flannel
Fleece                                      N         Woollen coat of sheep after being sheared before being turned into yarn.
Foulard                                   V/N     Lightweight fabric often with a print design, made from either silk or cotton.
Frieze                                      N         Heavy woollen material
Fustian                                    V         Usually dyed in dark colours. A cotton and linen fabric.
Gabardine                               V/N     Used to make suits. Made from either wool, cotton or textured polyester.
Georgette                                N         Semi-transparent silk material used for dresses
Gingham                                 V         Lightweight cotton fabric, usually in a chequered pattern
Grogram                                 N         A mix of wool and silk
Grosgrain                                V/N     A fabric made from silk or a synthetic silk
Haircloth/hair                         N         Fabric cloth made from camel hair or horse hair
Hemp                                      V         Taken from the cannabis plant, used for yarn, cordage and other fabrics
Jersey                                      V/N     Usually used for clothing. Traditionally made from wool, now available in vegan, synthetic varieties
Khaki                                      V         Thick material used usually for making military uniforms
Lame                                       V         A material woven with metal threads
Leather                                   N         Tough material made from animal skins
Leatherette                             V         Vegan, imitation leather made from plants and other sources
Linen                                       V         A soft fabric made from flax plant fibres
Linsey-woolsey                        V/N     A strong fabric containing wool, cotton and/or linen
Lint                                         V         Cotton textile often used in first aid kids/ to dress wounds
Lisle                                        N         A woven fabric with lisle thread
Mackinaw                                N         Heavy woollen fabric
Mackintosh                              V         Waterproof lightweight fabric
Madras                                                V         Lightweight fabric made from cotton. Used for light, summer clothes
Marseille                                 V         Usually used for bedding, a strong cotton material
Microfibre                               V         A synthetic fabric – a very light yarn
Modal                                      V         A synthetic fabric made from beech trees
Mohair                                     N         Yarn or silk-like material made from the hair of the Angora goat
Ethical Fabric Guide
Moire, watered-silk                 N         Material made from silk, wool, cotton or rayon
Moleskin                                  V         A cotton fabric with soft, leathery finish – similar to vegan leather
Monk’s cloth                            V         A heavy cotton fabric in a basket weave
Moquette                                 V         A heavy duty synthetic fabric used for carpets, rugs and other textiles
Moreen                                    V/N     Strong textile made from wool and/or cotton
Mousseline de soie                   V/N     Light silky fabric made from silk or rayon
Muslin                                     V         Plain weave cotton fabric
Nankeen                                  V         Yellow coloured cotton cloth
Ninon                                       V/N     Sheer fabric made from silk, nylon or rayon
Nylon                                       V         Synthetic fabric
Oilcloth                                   V         A fabric painted or treated on one side using an oil spray
Organdie/organdie                  V         See-through muslin
Organza                                  V/N     Plain sheer material made from silk, nylon or polyester
Orlon                                       V         A brand of wrinkle-free, acrylic textile fibre
Paisley                                     N         Patterned soft woollen fabric
Percale                                    V         Fine woven soft fabric used for bed linen
PET/PETE                             V         Commonly used thermoplastic polymer resin, used for clothing and plastic containers
Pilot cloth                                V         Twilled woollen material used for blue uniforms
Pique                                       V         A weaving style with ribbing or raised cords
Plush                                       V/N     A fabric with a pile more than 1/8 inch high, made from vegan or non vegan fibres
Polar fleece/polar wool            V         Soft insulating fabric made from synthetic materials
Polyester                                 V         Synthetic fabric
Pongee                                                N         Thin, soft fabric woven from silk
Poplin                                      V         Lightweight cotton fabric
Prima Loft                              V         Thermal microfiber insulation material
Ramie                                      V/N     Flexible fabric able to hold its shape without wrinkling
Rayon                                      V         Chemically treated wood pulp made into a synthetic fabric
Rep/Repp                                V/N     Cloth fabric woven from silk, wool or cotton
Russet                                     N         Homespun cloth made from wool and dyed with wood
Sailcloth                                  V         Fabrics used for boat sails or tents, made from cotton, nylon or dacron
Samite                                     N         Heavy silk fabric, often with gold thread



Sarcenet                                  N         Soft fabric used for ribbons and decorative purposes
Sateen                                     V         Cotton fabric with a silky, satin finish
Satin                                        V/N     Soft fabric made from silk, polyester or nylon
Screening                                V         Plastic or metal mash material
Scrim                                       V         Lightweight fabric used for reinforcing buildings
Seersucker                              V         Light fabric made from cotton, linen or rayon. Often in a striped pattern and used for spring, summer wear.
Serge                                       N         Woven woollen fabric
Shag                                        V/N     Fluffy/shaggy fabric used to make rugs, carpets and other upholsteries
 
Shantung                                 V/N     Silk type fabric used for bridal wear
Shark skin/shagreen               N         Sharkskin used for its external appearance and texture
Silesie                                      V         Woven cotton fabric usually used for clothing pockets
Silk                                          N         Soft shiny fibre obtained from silkworms
Spandex                                  V         Synthetic fabric fibre used to make elasticated clothing
Sponge cloth                           V/N     Porous fabric woven into a honeycomb texture
Stammel                                  N         Woollen fabric often dyed red and used for undershirts
Suede leather                          N         A type of leather, obtained from the underside of animal skin
Swan’s down                            N         Very soft woollen fabric, often used for baby clothes
Taffeta                                                V/N     Smooth, plain fabric made from synthetic fibres or silk
Tammy                                    N         Plain woollen or cotton fabric used for linings
Tapa/Tappa                            V         Derived from tapa bark, a paper like fabric
Tapestry/Tapis                       V/N     Heavy fabric often used for soft furnishings
Tencel                                     V         Made from cellulose in wood pulp, used to make make-up brushes, t-shirts, and more
Thinsulate                               V         Brand of synthetic insulating material
Towelling                                V         Usually cotton or linen, used to make towels
Tweed                                     N         Woven fabric made from contrasting woollen thread
Ultrasuede                              V         Synthetic, vegan suede leather
Velcro                                     V         Nylon fastening fabric
Velour                                     V         A faux woollen knitted fabric
Velvet                                     V/N     Soft, shiny textile made from silk, wool, mohair, nylon, acetate, rayon, linen, etc.
Velveteen                                V         Faux vegan velvet
Vicuna                                     N         Wool obtained from the coat of the Vicuna
Viscose                                    V         Versatile rayon fabric used often in industrial materials, upholsteries and carpets
Viyella                                     N         Woven fabric, mixed from wool and cotton
Voile                                        V         Sheer, fine fabric made from 100% cotton or cotton blend
Vulcanised fibre                      V         Strong laminated plastic
Whipcord                                V/N     Cotton –like fabric made from twisted vegan or non-vegan yarn
Wincey                                    N         Plain or woven fabric often used for pyjamas
Wire cloth                               V         Woven metallic wire used for car windscreens and tea strainers
Wool/woollen                          N         Fibre taken from the coats of various animals
Worsted                                  N         Hard textured woven woollen fabric
Ethical Fabric Guide
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