CT Shirts - How has nature inspired our fashion innovations

* This post has been written in collaboration with Charles Tyrwhitt.

How has nature become a key fashion innovator?

We’re all so much more environmentally conscious now than we were this time ten years ago. The conservation
narrative has been adopted by the mainstream and fashion isn’t exempt from this. Sustainability is creeping its
way up on the agendas of garment technologists across the world, but which materials have taken the most
inspiration from nature? With some guidance from CT Shirts, suppliers of high quality, Oxford shirts let’s take a
look at some innovative materials which are inspired by nature.

Organic cotton

While conventional cotton is notorious for its chemical reliance and a dependence on a copious amount of
water needed to flourish, the fashion industry has found an alternative, natural product. GOTS cotton has been
manufactured to rival traditional cotton. The production process doesn’t require any harmful pesticides —
which have been linked to causing cancer in the past. This material takes a holistic revision of the classic
production methods of cotton, while maintaining all the benefits of being a natural fibre. It is a breathable,
sustainable alternative which can be incorporated into various garments. 


Linen is a popular material for a whole host of garments suited best to warmer climes, renowned for its
breathability and comfort – plus, it is also used in other household items such as bedsheets and towels.
However, not many people know that linen is a plant derivative! It is made from the stem of the flax plant, and
growing linen is not an excessive time nor water consuming process. It rivals cotton on durability, and it even
gets stronger with every wash. As an organic fabric, when it is untreated it is biodegradable, making it a brilliant
choice for the environmentally conscious among us. Linen products are timeless wardrobe staples, and they
look brilliant in white or alternatively muted tones like ecru, ivory, tan and grey. 

TENCEL™ (Lyocell/ Modal)

An Australian firm have pioneered the production of TENCEL™, combining and then dissolving cotton scraps
and wood pulp, sourced from certified sustainable forests. The material is essentially cellulose fibres and it
produces a light and multi-purpose fabric, which has soared in availability in recent years. It is 50% more
absorbent than cotton, unshaken by moisture, and with an impressive anti-bacterial quality, it is the ideal
choice for activewear garments. In terms of efficiency, it is far cheaper and less resource consuming than
producing conventional cotton. As well as this, it is biodegradable which is a sought-after quality in a society
which is looking more and more towards finding new ways to limit our input onto landfill sites. 
The production of TENCEL™ does require petrochemicals, but they are only used under a closed-loop system,
so the solvent is recycled which helps to keep waste to a minimum. 


As one of the oldest fabrics in the world, hemp is now widely used in creating garments. It’s derived from the
stem of the hemp plant, and the resultant product shares a lot of similarities with linen. The qualities of hemp
garments help to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer months, making it an extremely
versatile choice to incorporate into items for every season. It is also extremely UV resistant, making it great for
The hemp plant itself is also pest resistant, meaning that it doesn’t require any harmful herbicides, fungicides
or pesticides to yield — an added bonus is that it doesn’t need much water either, and only a small amount of
surface area to grow successfully. Plus, as it grows, it returns much of the nutrients it uses to the soil, making it
good for the surrounding ecosystem. The hemp can be produced into fabrics through an entirely organic
process as well, which adds to the environmental benefit. 

The materials that make up our day-to-day outfits are changing, and we could certainly be seeing a lot more of
these new innovative nature inspired fabrics in the future. 


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