Sustainably-sourced and vegan fabrics are making their way into the summertime fashion world. Recycled linen, cotton, and viscose are among the top recommended materials for conscious users who go for comfort, breathable clothing, and environmentally-friendly practices.

With the warm season in full gear in many of the world’s countries, fashion designers have several suggestions for staying cool this summer—cutouts, short hemlines, and a white color palette. However, a lot of this season’s trends use materials like leather, sequins, and metallics that do not correspond with the need to introduce more sustainability and vegan items in the industry as only 23% of luxury brands prioritize animal welfare. 

Grėtė Švėgždaitė, a new generation fashion designer based in Lithuania and founder of a luxury sleepwear brand GRETES believes keeping comfortable and sweat-free even on the hottest days can go hand in hand with veganism and sustainability values. 

Top summertime contenders—recycled and plant-based fabrics

The designer suggests going for fabrics like cotton or linen to feel comfortable during the summer. Both materials are breathable and allow sufficient air circulation, therefore preventing sweat, rashes, redness, and discomfort. However, cotton production requires huge amounts of water, and chemicals are used to soften the linen, therefore, she urges to choose the recycled options.

“Recycled textile, like linen or cotton, is both summer-friendly and already a more sustainable route for those who dress with the environment in mind. Recycling also helps to save water and minimize textile products thrown into the landfills,” Ms. Švėgždaitė said. 

Another fabric recommended by the designer is viscose made of eucalyptus, pine, bamboo, and other plants.  Since it is a plant-based material, it is plastic-free and offers relief from the heat. Viscose also works well for sleepwear as it helps to regulate body temperature during the night. At the same time, it can be made to resemble silk, therefore providing a cruelty-free alternative without compromising on a luxurious feel. 

“New technologies allow saving water resources and reducing the amount of chemicals when producing fabrics from plants. But the effect on the environment is just as essential and even natural fabrics leave a certain footprint. So consumers should look for brands that commit to the sustainable production of textile for the sake of their bodies and the planet,” the designer added. 

However, choosing clothing from cotton, linen, or viscose is not enough and shoppers need to be diligent about checking the label to make sure that the entire item is made of this fabric.

“Sometimes manufacturers do not disclose the full truth about a clothing item, meaning, the product name may state it’s from linen, but the label shows that linen constitutes only 50%, and the rest is polyester,” Ms. Švėgždaitė said. “If this is the case, the piece of clothing will not have the cooling properties as it will essentially wrap the skin in polyester, trapping the heat in.”

Natural fabrics as part of a personal style

One of this season’s trends that stands out among louder and statement pieces is a timeless and minimalistic approach, involving quality clothing sure to last years. According to Ms. Švėgždaitė, natural fiber materials, which have been seeping into the fashion world for a while, complement the trend and make ideal wardrobe staples that can be mixed and matched to create personalized yet comfortable looks. 

“Natural fabrics are not reserved only for summer dresses anymore, and there are a number of ways to incorporate them in leisure as well as business styles. Suits and loungewear, shorts and jackets, form-fitting and loose cuts—the fabrics provide a versatile canvas for everyday summer looks,” the designer explained.

Ms. Švėgždaitė also urges people to purchase warm weather clothing responsibly and think about whether the item will be durable for many summers and can be recycled at the end of its life cycle.