What is Tencel™ Modal Fabric?

SANVT Journal

In the race to provide improved fashion items that provide better sustainability and comfort, many fashion brands are moving beyond traditional textiles. Innovative new fabrics can provide a wide variety of benefits to the buyer and a few to the planet too. 

Tencel™ Modal is one of these new materials and it has some promising properties that are leading to its rising popularity within the fashion world. You may not recognise the name now but further down the line this fabric’s going to be widely known and worn. There are good reasons why.

Here’s SANVT’s guide to Tencel™ Modal to explain more about what it is and what its benefits are. But before that, a summary:

What is Tencel™ Modal Fabric? Summary:

  • Tencel™ Modal is a fabric made from wood – specifically the pulp of beech trees
  • It is an exceptionally soft and flexible (advanced) form of Rayon
  • Tencel™ is a branded trademark, the fabric is known as Modal
  • It is one of the most sustainable and biodegradable of all fabrics
  • Comfort is also exceptional: Tencel™ Modal is super-soft, durable and flexible.

Tencel™ Modal: Overview

First, it’s worth explaining a couple of background points: Tencel™ is actually a branded trademark and Modal is the name of the fabric. Modal is considered to be an advanced form of Rayon – with superior flexibility, durability, softness and sustainability when compared to Rayon.

Tencel™ Modal is a natural-derived fabric. Its fibres are extracted from processes that occur with the environment – similar to cotton, which is harvested from plants – or silk, which is harvested from larvae undergoing metamorphosis! In this case, you may be surprised to learn that Tencel™ Modal is actually derived from wood. Specifically wood from Beech Trees.

It’s a little counterintuitive to imagine a fabric made from something as strong and sturdy as wood but the fibres, produced from the wood pulp, are exceptionally soft and flexible. Yet, when it comes to durability and longevity they can be as hardy as their source material.

Benefits of Tencel™ Modal

Sustainability is a key attribute in Tencel™ Modal’s favour. Modal is considered to be a form of Rayon (as mentioned earlier). But where the production of Rayon can be somewhat wasteful – requiring lots of energy and chemicals – Tencel™ Modal uses a closed-loop production system. This means the chemicals used in production are recovered rather than released. So it’s far gentler on the environment. And only sustainably-grown beech wood is used.

The fabric’s bio-degradability is also exceptional compared to most other fabrics. The fibres can fully return to nature under industrial, home, marine and soil conditions. This takes time, of course, but is ideal when a lot of fashion items do inevitably end up in landfill.

While sustainability a key attribute, Modal is a superb fabric to wear too. Tencel™ Modal is superlatively soft and fine to the touch. Touch tests have shown shown the fabric to feel twice as soft as cotton, which is already a pleasantly soft fabric. And the softness also lasts longer than with cotton. Some would even gone so far to call the fabric’s feel ‘exquisite’.

And there’s more: Modal fabric absorbs moisture more efficiently than conventional materials. This leads to superior levels of breathability. Tencel™ Modal also retains colour better than comparative fabrics. The fibers are also highly versatile, leading to a flexibility and longevity that’s beyond that normally offered by a natural fabric.

This is all high praise: but this is a fabric that’s got a lot in its favour. You can understand why it’s winning so many fans in the fashion world. It’s about as far from fast fashion as it gets.

Sustainability & Comfort: a winning combination

Excellent sustainability and top comfort are a winning combination, so you can imagine why Tencel™ Modal is becoming a go-to for ethical and sustainable fashion brands. This includes SANVT, as we are now using Tencel™ Modal to create our sustainable boxer shorts for men. Why not take a look? But if not we can highly recommend this fabric – if you see it on the label of a garment you’re going to buy then it’s a reliable mark of sustainability, comfort and quality….