A long and cold winter surely can dampen our spirits – especially when it drags on until late April. This year more than ever, we’re all hoping for a reasonably mild winter. With energy prices going through the roof, harsh temperatures could truly put us in a pickle this winter, to say the least. That's why it's important to find the best fabrics for winter, with which we can keep us warm and cozy all winter long.
For starters, in winter it's important to understand how to layer our clothes properly. After all, layered looks not only look cool but also keep us the warmest. Provided of course you use the appropriate textiles as a base, middle layer and outer layer. So here are the best fabrics for winter from base layer to outermost layer.
The best textiles for winter: the base
Silk is naturally extremely soft, hypoallergenic and insulating. This makes the fabric ideal as a base for winter layering looks. However, silk often comes from unethical origins, as silkworms are boiled alive in their cocoons to produce the fabric. As a result, around 1.6 trillion silkworms are tortured and killed in the garment industry every year. Not only that, the silk industry wastes 100 liters of water per 1kg of silk during processing and cleaning, on top of other negative impacts on the ecosystem.
Since silkworms feed primarily on mulberry leaves, these trees are planted in large quantities around factories. These not only require huge amounts of water, but also use toxic pesticides, which in turn harm the soil, groundwater, and insects. We therefore recommend buying products made from animal-free Ahimsa Silk or Peace Silk to get an ethical product, or using eco-friendly silk alternatives made from agave or rose petals.
Cotton is usually referred to as a material better suited for summer and transitional seasons, rather than winter. The reason for this is that cotton is air-permeable and extremely breathable, and therefore cannot retain heat sufficiently. Not only that, cotton takes a long time to dry, which means that once it is soaked with sweat, we run the risk of catching a cold in the winter. But not all cotton is worn equal! In fact, whether or not the natural fiber is suitable for winter depends entirely on the knit structure and density of the fabric.
At SANVT, for example, we have designed the heavyweight t-shirt especially for winter, which, with a grammage of 235 g/m² and the thermoregulating knit structure, is ideal as a base layer for cold temperatures. Extra durable, sustainable, fair, climate neutral and high quality, our winter t-shirt comes in black, white and dark blue - and looks especially cool under a vintage flannel shirt.
Left picture photo credits: Thando Sikawuti
The best fabrics for winter: the middle layer
One of the all-time favorites and best fabrics for winter is wool. Merino wool especially is one of the most sought after fabrics in winter. However, just as with silk production, animal cruelty is not uncommon in wool production. Because the fact is: it is hardly possible not to injure the animals during shearing! The soft and popular merino wool, of which 90% comes from Australia, uses the “mulesing” method. In this method, which is standard in Australia, the skin around the tail of the sheep is completely cut away without anesthesia to prevent infestation with fly maggots.
Another aspect of animal cruelty is the inappropriate animal husbandry for sheep and alpacas as well as for goats in the cashmere industry. Also the extraction of angora wool from angora rabbits is often done in a very cruel way, tearing the fur from the rabbits' skin. Therefore it is extremely important that we pay attention to animal-friendly and fair origins when it comes to wool! However, if you can manage to find certified products with wool from animal-friendly shearing, the fabric is ideal as a warming middle layer in winter and looks especially good as a knitted sweater with corduroy pants.
But what do we use as an animal-friendly alternative for the middle layer of our layering look when we don't want to wear wool? Fleece, of course! We all remember fleece winter clothing from our childhood. But now fleece is totally back in style and looks minimalist cool with dark jeans or chinos and white sneakers.
The fabric was originally invented in 1979 as a cheaper substitute for wool. Over time, however, fleece has proven its ability to retain heat while keeping moisture away from the body. Fleece is anything but a cheap alternative! However, since fleece is made of polyester a.k.a. plastic, we recommend buying fleece made of recycled polyester and then always washing it in laundry bags to avoid flushing microplastics into the oceans.
The best textiles for winter: the outer layer
Ethical Down & Fake Fur
Last but not least, for the perfect layering look, we need the right outer layer, i.e. the proper jacket or coat. Of course, you can go for a classic and timeless wool coat – from animal-friendly sources, of course. But in order to dare something fashionable, we recommend you to consider a thick parka jacket with fake fur, or to choose a fake fur coat in natural tones or pastel.
Alternatively, for the more chilly among you, we recommend ethical down jackets. By now, synthetic and plant-based down imitate the insulating properties of real down well due to their air inclusion. Instead of buying a down jacket with real down feathers made from animal cruel procedures, you can now get plant-based down made from a wide variety of natural, animal-friendly and biodegradable materials, such as bamboo, wood fibers and even wildflowers. Ethical down is therefore definitely one of the best fabrics for winter.
The best fabrics for winter: summing up
With the right layering look and the best textiles for winter, you’ll surely be able to tame the cold temperatures this winter will bring. With warming accessories, like thick socks, scarves, beanies and gloves, you should be perfectly prepared! Check out our online shop for more sustainable and ethical essentials for winter, like sweatshirts and winter chinos. And if you're still shivering in the cold, there's only one thing that will help: mulled wine with a twist. Cheers!