In Search of Tencel in Turkey

In our efforts to thoroughly research and verify the provenance of all our cloth, we found ourselves, one sunny morning, wandering the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Immersed in the saturated colours, the sounds and urgency of the marketplace and the smell of cooking from all around, we almost forgot we were there to work. We found, ropes, handmade wooden utensils, webbing and more but our search for antique cloth was fruitless. We comforted ourselves with chai and the best of Turkish cuisine followed by a trip down the old town to traipse around the antique/junk shops.

As the day drew to end, our driver arrived to take us off to the Tencel mill and factory, showing himself to be the only real threat to Lewis Hamilton’s championship reign as he sped through the countryside. On arrival we found a thoroughly hi-tech, energy efficient factory where we learnt the nature of Tencel:

Tencel is a cellulose fibre, which like rayon is made by dissolving wood pulp. Wood chips (sourced from certified and controlled sources of eucalyptus) are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mix which is pushed through tiny holes to form fibre threads. The lengths of fibre are spun into yarn which are then woven into cloth. The process of Tencel production ameliorates much of its own environmental effects. Like cotton, Tencel is made from plant materials. However, manufacturing Tencel requires less energy and water than cotton. The solvents used to turn the wood pulp into fibre are contained in a closed loop system, with a quoted recovery rate of 99%. As a naturally derived fibre, Tencel is also biodegradable.

Although it is dyed conventionally (which can be harmful to the environment), Tencel requires a lot less dye than cotton. The manufacturers are actively striving towards greener, cleaner and more efficient production and are currently investing in new, renewable energy sources.

We are fans of Tencel. It has the silkiest drape and handle, comes in all the colours you could ask for and is suitable for use wherever cotton or linen are recommended. In our view, it is up there with the best eco fabrics currently being produced. You can see our range of Tencel and Tencel blend cloths here.