You’ve worked with our design team in order to create the ideal uniform- tailored, on brand, with the perfect style and fit. But, do you know what goes into that uniform? We have started a new series to guide you through some of the advantages and disadvantages of the four main fibers: wool, cotton, viscose and polyester. In this last issue of Fiber Guide 101, we are exploring viscose.
Viscose is a popular fabric for corporate clothing and fashion clothing, but what exactly is it? Viscose is made from the “cellulose” or “wood pulp” from fast growing regenerative trees such as eucalyptus, beech, and pine, as well as plants such as bamboo, soy, and sugar cane. The cellulose material is then dissolved in a chemical solution to produce a pulpy, viscous substance which is spun into fibers to be made into threads.
In the late nineteenth century, viscose was known as artificial silk. The word “viscose” or “rayon” came into use in 1924. Viscose is a regenerated cellulose fiber, which is strong, durable, and comfortable. This makes it a key fiber to use in producing corporate wear, as clothes may be worn on a regular basis for up to 2 years. Viscose isn’t just found in our clothes — it’s also used in the manufacturing of upholstery, bedding, carpets, cellophane, and even sausage casing!
Viscose is abrasion resistant, yet soft to handle, and has good drape properties. It is breathable and absorbent, which adds to its comfort.
Viscose tends to be weak when wet and is prone to shrinking. Like polyester, viscose can pill and snag more easily than other fibers and can have a shiny appearance.
As it is 100% cellulose, viscose is biodegradable. It also has potential for reuse and remanufacture and should not be sent to landfill. However, because of the growing fast-fashion industry, some of the viscose on the market today is manufactured cheaply using energy, water, and chemically-intensive processes that impact workers, local communities, and the environment.
To get the best out of viscose, you have to know when its strengths play to your end use. Hopefully, this guide gives you that advantage the next time you are determining your fiber needs.