Humans have, over the years, developed an astonishing ability to turn just about anything into cloth, from worm poop for silk (okay, caterpillar fibroin) to petroleum for polyester. It's exhausting to learn about all them all and their properties, unless you're a giant fabric nerd like ourselves. So, we've made you a little cheat sheet to keep in mind when you're shopping. Go to your closet and check the fabric content labels of your favourite garments. Part of our mission is to educate others to be discerning and informed buyers - and that starts with being curious about where, how and what your items are made of.
Textile sciences is a broad and complex subject. What we're about to tell you are general guidelines, although there are certainly exceptions. For example, "polyester," could mean a gross, cheap, scratchy and clammy shirt, whereas "polyester micro fibre" could be the softest, most comfortable and breathable fabric you've ever touched, like the Schoëller fabric used in most high end riding breeches (hint hint, something new and exciting is coming!).
As you can imagine, we're pretty picky about our fabrics. We're constantly (I mean, days on end) researching the best ones, and searching out sustainable and ecologically sound sources. It's much easier said than done. Trust us. But were getting there.
Let's get started! (I totally just pushed my glasses up my nose).
Cotton: The good old standby. Crisp, soft, breathable and durable, it's no surprise that this one has been hugely popular for eons. This said, once cotton gets wet, it takes a long time to dry. Although it's made from a renewable source, cotton takes a huge amount of water to produce.
Linen: Oh linen, you make our hearts melt. When ironed, it has a crispness and life of its' own. If you own one of our taupe skirts, or have seen it in person, you know what we're talking about. It kind of floats and springs… okay, let's not get carried away. Maybe one say we'll write a poem about linen. So, breathable and durable, but on the other hand wrinkles like the devil, i.e. terrible to pack in a suitcase. The linen we stock is a little thicker, so it's not nearly as bad. In any case, get out your iron! (But it's so worth it…)
*Note: Our black skirts are made from an organic cotton/linen blend, in which you get some of the magical properties of the linen, but without the wrinkles.
Wool: there is a stereotype that all wool is thick and scratchy, which is completely false. We've seen (and sewed with) wool softer than cotton, or thinner than chiffon. As far as we're concerned, wool is a miracle fibre. Think of a wooly sheep in the summer - how on earth do they not overheat?! Evolution has gifted them with climate-controlling hair, which we get to mooch. Yay!
Hemp: The most earth-friendly of them all. It takes less processing to change the raw plant into fabric than any of the others, and is ruggedly durable. The downside - it's pretty scratchy! Our denim Class Act shorts are made from an organic hemp/cotton blend for this reason. You get to brag about being the most eco-friendly gal on your brunch date/camping trip/bike ride, but the cotton makes them nice and soft on your hind end. We'll definitely be using this fabric more in the fall.
Silk: The original gangster fabric. It's just so soft and luxurious - and deceptively strong. Often confused with its polyester imitations, there's just nothing like the real thing. Silk is very climate-controlling, while poly just makes you all clammy. Beware of clothing tags that have the word "silky," they're usually trying to pass off a synthetic as a silk. Always check fabric content labels!
(We always use real silk in our scarves.)
Bamboo: Let's just re-christen this fabric "died and gone to heaven." It's soft and stretchy and wicking and anti-odor. It takes a little more TLC than cotton (don't put it in the dryer!), but the high quality stuff will last you a long time. Once you go bamboo, you'll never go back. Beware. Our graphic tees, showstopper shirts and polos are made in this fabric. It is the ideal fabric in and out of the saddle for maximum maneuverability and comfort. Look for it in any of your sport clothing if you want comfort with no restriction. It is popular as sleepwear for the same reasons.
Polyester: Oh man, you could read a few books on this one and still not know all of the variations. It can range from the gross seventies stuff to high-tech micro fibers. A general rule: the cheap stuff will fall apart, get you all sweaty, and pill like crazy. Something to keep in mind is that all polyesters are petroleum based products, which means they will take a few hundred years to never dissolve at all after they end up in the landfill. On the other hand, they possess many attributes not found in any other fabric, and the high quality stuff is so impressively durable.
To conclude this very nerdy post (if you've made it this far, we applaud you!), no fabric is perfect in every way. We're working towards becoming a completely sustainable brand. It will take a long time, but all good things do. You can call us absolutely any time if you have any questions about fabric or clothing, or if you just want to nerd out about linen or silk. Or if you want to talk about horses. We're always down for that.