The use of natural fibers as a raw material for the production of textile pieces began thousands of years ago.
Natural fibers such as cotton or linen have already been found in archaeological excavations.
The analysis dated them somewhere between the 6th and 7th centuries BC. Hemp, which originates in Southeast Asia, was cultivated over six thousand years ago, later expanding its influence to China. In Egypt, the art of weaving and spinning linen was a very well-established practice.
These are just a few of the many examples that demonstrate how natural fibers were – and still are – part of our collective history. As society developed, so too did natural fibers kept on following and adapting to the needs and demands of both producers and consumers.
Later, during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, new technological inventions allowed its production and processing on a larger scale.
Natural fibers dominated the textile market for thousands of years, until the appearance of synthetic and artificial fibers in the 20th century. However, as had happened years before, natural fibers were again the object of research and development studies, so that they could continue to compete in a market with more affordable production costs.
The result was a considerable improvement in their production and processing methods, as well as the ability to alter some of their original properties.
Natural fibers are those used for the production of circular knitted fabrics, which are found ready-made in nature. Nature is where we discover the different types of natural fibers that can be of plant, animal, or mineral origin.
Those of plant origin are found in the seeds and fruits, in the stems of plants, or their leaves. Examples of these are cotton, hemp, linen, or nettle.
Wool, on the other hand, such as sheep or cashmere wool, and silk, are included in those of animal origin. The same happens with Merino wool, with a very peculiar origin.
There are few or no applications in the textile industry for natural fibers of mineral origin.
Even so, these are widely used in numerous other industries, with very different goals such as thermal or sound insulation.
Generally speaking, natural fibers boast three main advantages over synthetic and artificial fibers:
First, they tend to be more environmentally friendly. Circular knitted fabrics made from natural fibers are biodegradable, with more sustainable production methods.
Second, pieces created from natural fibers are much more comfortable to wear and touch. Lastly, although they can be sometimes less expensive to produce, these will almost always be more expensive to buy than synthetic and artificial fibers.
Circular knitted fabrics can be made from the most diverse types of natural fibers.
Some examples include cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool, or nettle fiber, amongst many other options.
Within each of these types, we also find some subtypes. In the case of cotton, this is a kind of circular knitted fabric that can be made from SUPIMA® cotton, organic cotton, or even recycled cotton, for example.
For textile production, these fibers have a great affinity for water, which facilitates the coloring and dyeing processes in aqueous solutions.
As they are natural fibers and, therefore, biodegradable, circular knitted fabrics are also very susceptible to the effects of decomposition or attacks by some small animals, such as moths. However, the latest developments already allow them to overcome some of these obstacles, making them virtually immune to this type of damage.
More recently, technological innovation has allowed us to go even further.
Because their origin can be found in plants, natural fibers of plant origin have been increasingly used for their ability to reduce carbon dioxide.
Examples are still few, but they do exist. These are garments that, when worn, can absorb carbon dioxide and help reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
They are comfortable and very flexible pieces. They are pleasant to the touch and let the skin breathe better. They have great durability and are very resistant. For all this and for having acquired a classic status, they have become the type of fibers most sought after by the upper-middle-class segments.
Over the last few years, the production of natural fibers has remained more or less at the same level.
Cotton is the most popular type of fiber, followed by wool and linen. The main producers of these natural fibers are the less developed countries, more directly dependent on agriculture.
The United Nations has even encouraged the increase of its production, as a way of boosting their economy, contributing to economic and sustainable progress, since these are renewable raw materials.
But there is no need to go as far as another continent. At ITJV, you can find circular knitted fabrics made from the most diverse natural fibers, available only through catalogue request and sample validation.
This text was written and published in 2021