Design & Sustainability on

Tencel®: A Better Tree-Based Fiber

— By: The Team at Nau

Turning trees into t-shirts may sound strange, but lyocell fibers—including rayon and bamboo—have long held promise as a renewable fabric source. Over the last ten years, Nau has experimented with all sorts of new plant-based fabrics. But it wasn’t until we began working with Tencel® that we found a fabric with the style and performance to match its sustainability story.

Better on the Skin

A soft, moisture-wicking fabric, Tencel® is produced from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. Silky, smooth, and with a fantastic drape, it provides breathability, odor control and a great feel next to skin. We blend Tencel® with organic cotton, recycled polyester, merino and linen to create a range of high-performance fabrics with versatile characteristics, from handsome quick-drying t-shirts to effortlessly cool summer dresses.

Better in the Sun

Breathable and moisture-wicking, Tencel® already makes a great choice for hot weather, but Tencel® Sun builds on those benefits with a UV-blocking treatment that provides with UPF-30 and UPF-50 rated sun protection. By embedding natural titanium oxide pigments in the fiber—rather than applying an inorganic treatment to the surface of the fiber that will degrade with washing—Tencel® Sun offers durable, non-toxic sun protection.

Better for the Planet

Eucalyptus is a great fiber source: according to the Natural Resource Defense Council, the eucalyptus trees used to produce Tencel® don’t require irrigation or pesticides, can grow in forestland unsuitable for farming, and require one-fifth the land area of cotton. Even better, Tencel® uses FSC-certified eucalyptus—meaning the trees are grown in sustainably managed forests.

But the promise of lyocell fibers, including rayon and bamboo, has often come with a real challenge: how to process the fibers without so many harmful chemicals? Too often in the past, the environmental costs of processing lyocell fibers have outweighed the benefits. Tencel® found the answer with a closed-loop manufacturing process that recovers and reuses more than 99% of the required solvents.

The result is an extremely versatile fiber, one that’s naturally renewable, durable and—when the time finally comes—100% biodegradable. To experience the benefits for yourself, check out our Elementerry, Astir, Wander and Dissolve collections, and see why we’re using Tencel® and Tencel® Sun to design clothing better.