What is clothing made of?
You are not the only one who wants to know! In fact, there are many searches of this sort every month. That is why we have written this textile guide, where you can read about what materials such as bamboo, kevlar, and Dyneema® are, and what they can do. Now you're probably thinking "wow - what a lot of text!". But here at Cheap-workwear.com, we are really nerdy about materials, and take pride in dressing you well. Fortunately for you, the textile guide is in alphabetical order, so it’s easy to find the material you are interested in.
Acrylic or polyacrylic and polychloride are soft, lightweight, and can withstand sunlight as well as most chemicals. Acrylic has less abrasion resistance than nylon and polyester. Acrylic is also called Orlon, Courtelle or Dralon. Acrylic clothing is very sensitive to heat and can lose its shape during washing, tumble drying and ironing at high temperatures. Wrinkled, plump acrylic fibers in knit have a great insulating ability as they can hold a lot of air.
Aramide is a heat-resistant, strong, synthetic fiber, which is used in flame retardant workwear. Incidentally, it is also used in bulletproof vests, which tells you a little about the strength.
Armortex® is a DuPont™ Kevlar® fibre. Armortex® gives textiles strength and flexibility. It is a lightweight fibre that is incredibly strong and durable. Armortex® can make clothing and footwear safe and cut-resistant.
Bamboo is a sustainable plant that does not require irrigation, pesticides or pest control. It is the world's fastest growing plant; it absorbs more CO2 than trees, and it is biodegradable. It can be processed and used in e.g. bamboo T-shirts, bamboo underwear, bamboo socks and much more. Bamboo fibre has a silky luster, is soft, breathable, antibacterial and odourless, even after countless washes, because bamboo reduces the amount of bacteria in the clothes. Bamboo regulates your temperature, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. It absorbs moisture and allows it to evaporate.
Bionic Finish® Eco is used to give textiles a permanent, water-repellent finish. As the word Eco suggests, it is an organic technology and completely fluorine-free. Bionic Finish® Eco is used in water-repellent outdoor clothing, hunting clothing and snow suits.
Cotton is the fibre that grows around the seeds of a cotton plant. This fibre is used as a raw material for textile production. Cotton is breathable and is one of the most widely used textile fibres in the world. Clothes made from cotton are moisture-absorbent and comfortable to wear close to the body. In itself, cotton is not heat insulating; this comes about if the material is garnetted, to allow an insulating layer of air to form.
Combed cotton is a quality product that is really soft and very strong. In combed cotton, the fibres are treated specially before being spun into yarn.
Canvas is strong woven fabric made of cotton or linen. It is a powerful fabric that can be used for bags, shoes, outerwear and more. Canvas is durable and breathable.
COOLMAX® wicks moisture away from the body and makes the fabric dry faster, so you have a pleasantly cool and dry feeling on the body. Coolmax® are polyester fibres that are specially made with an increased surface area. The moisture is wicked away from the skin and out to the outer layer of the fabric, where it evaporates.
The Coolmax® function is built into the fibre structure and is retained by repeated washing.
CORDURA® is a very durable and hard-wearing material, in which the most important element is nylon. Cordura is ten times stronger than cotton, three times stronger than ordinary polyester fiber, and twice stronger than ordinary nylon. It is therefore often used for reinforcement in work clothing in places where the clothing comes into contact with hands, tools or the ground. Work trousers with Cordura® and other items of Cordura® workwear have increased durability.
Denim is also a well-known favourite. The fabric is strong, cotton or cotton and polyester, which is called twill weave. (Twill is a weave-type which produces a diagonal ribbing across the fabric). Clothes made of denim can include, for example, denim aprons, denim trousers, denim shorts and denim shirts.
Down is very well-suited for keeping warm. There is no other insulation material for clothing, which weighs as little as down, is just as compressible and retains heat just as well. In short, down takes up less space and weighs much less than other materials that can provide the same level of warmth. Down is breathable and very comfortable to wear. If you have ever compared a down duvet versus a duvet with synthetic filling, then you probably know a down duvet provides top notch comfort.
Finally, down can retain its properties over many years if cared for properly. The best and finest down can retain close to the same insulating effect for up to 40-50 years with the right care! Therefore, the down in a down jacket or vest can easily last the entire lifetime of the clothes - and we are of course aware that you don’t tend to own a down jacket or vest for 40-50 years!
Dyneema® is an extremely strong fibre, which is at the same time very light. It is used in work clothing, in the areas where the clothing is most subject to wear and tear. Another plus is that Dyneema® keeps its colour because it is integrated into the fibre, as opposed to just being an outer layer.
Elastane is a elastic fibre at the same elasticity level as rubber, but stronger and more resistant to sunlight. The elongation capacity is 400%. Elastane is mixed into other material, for example for sportswear and underwear, due to its comfortable elasticity.
Elastomultiester is a polyester fibre that is added to denim in order to give it comfortable stretch, while also enabling the fabric to return to its original shape.
Synthetic fur is a furry plastic that has the appearance of lambswool and is washable. Synthetic fur is soft, insulating and soundless. It is used for work jackets, vests, hats and hunting jackets. Synthetic fur jackets can be worn alone or as an insulating intermediate layer with a shell jacket on the outside.
Fleece is a smooth knit fabric with a heavily roughened and garnetted surface. This provides a heat-insulating air layer. At the same time, fleece is very light and is used for workwear as well as casual wear. The original material choice used in fleece was polyester, but today other materials can also be used.
Fuseknit technology is a manufacturing method that allows clothing to be produced with fewer seams. It is used for e.g. fuseknit sportswear and running shoes.
Gore-Tex® is a membrane which is both wind and water resistant, meaning it wicks moisture away from the body. It is a membrane filled with tiny pores, each of which is 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. The pores are small enough that water and wind cannot get through, but are the exact size required to allow moisture to be wicked away from your body, so you can stay dry. Waterproof Gore-Tex shoes and boots, Gore-Tex jackets and Gore-Tex trousers are just some of the items available here.
Flax stems from the stem of the flax plant. This material has good tensile strength and is dirt-repellent. It is a big process to extract flax, which makes the clothing it is made from quite expensive. Flax is often mixed with other fibers for clothing as it is good at absorbing moisture. Another term for flax is linen. In addition to the flax stalks being used for spinning linen, flax seeds can also be used for oil, for example. A linen shirt or linen dress is really comfortable to wear in the summer because it has a high absorbency.
Isoli is really soft, and warmer than regular cotton. Isoli feels like a sweatshirt fabric, however the back is garnetted and soft, as extra yarn is knitted into the reverse side, which is then garnetted. Isoli is very sweat-absorbent, but retains the heat well so you do not get cold. Isoli is also called "jogging fabric". Isoli is mainly used for sweatshirts and sportswear, in which there must be ample freedom to move.
Kevlar is a really strong fibre material made from synthetic fibers that are five times stronger than steel. Despite being a plastic material, Kevlar does not melt like most plastics do, and it is resistant to several chemicals. Kevlar is used in welding glove seams, safety shoes and safety boots, as it is heat resistant. It is also used in work trousers as knee pocket reinforcement for those working in craft and floor laying, where the knees are exposed to hard wear and tear. As an example of how strong a material it is, we can tell you that Kevlar is used in bulletproof vests and helmets.
KneeGuard™ is a positioning system used for knee pads and knee pad pockets in craftsmens’ trousers. KneeGuard™ ensures that the knee pads stay where they should, therefore providing optimal protection for the knees.
Synthetic fibers are industrial fibers that are used in textiles. Man-made fibers represent one type, which are synthetically manufactured using air, water and oil-based products.
Another type is regenerated fibers, such as viscose, which are made from cellulose, which can be derived from cotton waste or wood. These fibers are very similar to cotton, as they can absorb large amounts of moisture, and are comfortable to wear, both when it is hot or cold. However, regenerated fibers are more delicate in the wash than cotton and can both wrinkle and shrink.
Synthetic fibers are strong both when wet and dry, they hardly wrinkle, and they dry quickly because they barely absorb any moisture. Some of the names synthetic fibres are known as include: acrylic, acrylonitrile, antron, bri-nylon, courtelle, dacron, diolen, spandex, elastane, lycra, nylon, orlon, herculon, polypropylene, polyamide, polyester, nylon 6, rilsan, terylene, tetoron, and vyrene. Because these fibers are smooth, the dirt stays on the surface. The surface may begin pilling and bobbling if the yarn is loosely spun.
Synthetic fibers are used for clothing such as T-shirts, sweaters, underwear and sportswear.
Lifa® is a polyester fiber that repels water and causes the moisture to be led away from the body and transported to the surface of the fabric. Lifa® is used for the innermost layer of clothing, such as sweat-wicking thermal underwear and ski underwear. It keeps your skin dry, warm and comfortable. Lifa is used by Helly Hansen Workwear.
It is not possible to print on Lifa® as the fibers repel the printing.
Lycra® is the brand name for elastane. LYCRA ® is used in many fabrics to make them stretchy. LYCRA ® gives the item flexibility and helps it return to its original shape after being stretched.
Lycra Dupont ® is a registered trademark of lycra.
Lyocell is reproduced cellulose e.g. modal and viscose, and is higher than these in terms of strength. Lyocell is soft and has the ability to absorb moisture. However, the surface can wear faster and the colour is less durable. Therefore, it is often made with a slightly rough surface, reminiscent of peach skins. Lyocell is more expensive than viscose and modal.
Leather is animal hide. Leather can be divided into different grades.
- Grain leather is the highest quality, which is the outermost skin layer of the animal.
- Split leather is the layer of the skin that faces the body of the animal. Split leather can be split into different thicknesses depending on what it is to be used for. It has pretty much the same durability as the outermost layer of leather. Split is suede on both sides. It is used, for example, for work gloves and footwear.
- Bonded leather is the lowest quality. It is the leftovers that are left over after tanning and processing of leather. These remnants are split up into small pieces that are glued together. The end product is similar to leather, just with a different structure, and it is not as durable as real leather.
- Aniline leather has a naturally textured surface, allowing you to see where the animal has had insect stings, folds and beauty spots. Aniline leather has completely open hair follicles and it is a very soft leather which is highly absorbent and light sensitive. Only 5% of raw hides can be used as aniline leather meaning it is recognised as exclusive leather.
- Semi-aniline is full-grain leather, which has been treated with a surface finish that leaves the texture of the leather visible. This makes semi-aniline easier to maintain and more resistant to stains, dirt and moisture than aniline leather. 10-15% of raw hides can be used as semi-aniline leather.
- Corrected leather is dyed and surface-treated, it can also be printed on or sanded. Corrected leather has a uniform surface with good water repellency and lightfastness. It is strong and easy to maintain. 80% of raw hides can be used as corrected leather.
- Suede is the back side of leather. It is very rough with a smooth back, and is soft, highly absorbent and light sensitive.
- Nubuck is the grain side of the skin, which is sanded after tanning and dyeing. It looks like suede but unlike suede, the back side of the nubuck is rougher than the front.
Merino Wool comes from wool from the merino sheep. Merino wool is extra fine, soft and has a silky sheen. It is an exclusive product which is reasonably expensive.
Microfibre is a synthetic fiber that is less than 1 denier. The most common types are manufactured from polyester and polyamide and are called nylon, kevlar, nomex and trogamide. Microfibre is used in the production of unwoven, woven and knitted fabrics, and it is widely used in clothing, furniture, industrial filters and dishcloths, for example.
Modal is from the “viscose family”. Modal and viscose have almost the same properties. However, wet modal is stronger than viscose. The colour can quickly appear dull and it is not as resistant to abrasion.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material filled with air bubbles. Neoprene is a very flexible material and the air bubbles help to give it good insulation properties. Neoprene is used for jackets, sweaters and diving suits, for example.
Nylon or polyamide surpasses all other fibre materials both in tear and abrasion resistance. Nylon is photosensitive and turns yellow and softens in sunlight. Nylon or polyamide is a synthetic product which is use widely, mostly as it does not shrink. It is used, amongst other things, for the reinforcement of sports clothing. There are now types of nylon being produced which are resistant to light. In nylon or polyamide, crimps and pleats can endure washing. Nylon is also used in crepe yarn, which is used in socks, underwear, knitwear and other stretchy items.
Oeko-tex® Standard 100 - the workwear has been tested for harmful substances If you buy work clothes with the Oeko-tex® Standard 100 certification, often simply referred to as Oeko-tex® 100, you are guaranteed that your clothing has been tested for harmful substances. This is an international standard with strict product requirements. It is not just the fabric that has been tested, but all parts of the product, such as labels, zippers and filling material.
Oxford is a weaving technique, but the word is often used as a designation. Oxford is a strong and soft fabric that is often used for shirts, and wrinkles less than other shirt fabrics. It has a “basketweave” structure, with two warp yarns interlaced with a soft additional yarn - giving more weight to the fabric. When woven with coloured warp yarn and a white weft yarn, it is known as the Oxford Chambray.
Polartec® is an advanced form of textile based on recyclable materials. Polartec® keeps you warm at the same time as being light and soft. Moisture is kept away from the body, ensuring the clothes dry quickly. It is a vegan alternative to products such as wool. Outdoor jackets, fleece jackets and synthetic fur jackets with Polartec® can be used for work as well as leisure.
Polyester is a synthetic fibre very commonly used in clothing, surpassed only by cotton. The fibre is used alone or combined with other fibres. Polyester is strong and does not wrinkle or shrink, whether it is used in combination with other fibres or alone.
Synthetic fibres like polyester are artificially manufactured fibres. Polyester is made from crude oil and natural gas. Commonly known synthetic fibers are acrylic, elastane, polyamide and polyester. Polyester fibres are the most commonly used and have high tensile strength, minimal shrinkage and low water absorption. Polyester can be produced with various surfaces, shapes and properties such as being flame retardant, antibacterial and with very little shrinkage. It can be washed in the same high temperatures such as cotton, although it is important to take any dye in the fabric into consideration. Pleats and press folds keep throughout washes and use.
Polypropylene is lighter than other textile fibres. Polypropylene is stretchable and strong, it can withstand most chemicals, however, it is sensitive to light and heat. The polypropylene fiber does not get wet because sweat is directed to the outermost layer. It is commonly used with sweat-wicking socks and thermal underwear with polypropylene.
Poplin is canvas woven, so there is twice the number of transverse threads than lengthwise.
Poplin can consist of cotton or cotton and polyester. Both shirts and polo T-shirts are produced in poplin.
Primaloft® is a super-light material made of synthetic microfibers filled with air pockets, which provide a high degree of insulation. Primaloft® is water-repellent and breathable and can keep you warm and dry in extreme weather. Primaloft® can be packed into a backpack or suitcase, so it hardly takes up any room, making it easy to carry.
Prolen siltex is yarn that inhibits the growth of bacteria and mould. It reduces odour and is used, for example, in socks.
PU is also known as polyurethane. It is a synthetic material that can appear both as fibres and as a rubber coating. It is used for PU rubber boots, waders, rainwear and gloves.
PVC or Polyvinyl chloride is also called vinyl. It is a rubbery material which is less heat-sensitive than other synthetic fibers. PVC is one of the most commonly used plastic materials, and can be used in many contexts. It is made from salt and crude oil. PVC can be hard and stiff, and it can be soft due to plasticizer having been added. PVC can be used in rainwear, rubber boots and protective gloves.
Polyacrylic is derived from acrylic, which is a synthetic fiber. Acrylic is not nearly as durable as polyester. But polyacrylic is light, plump and heat-insulating.
Ripstop is a special weaving method that makes tears unable to spread. The ripstop weaving method prevents further damage to the fabric, as tears will quickly reach a woven border and will therefore not spread.
Scuba is a material similar to neoprene. It is very flexible and soft, and is therefore well-suited for dresses, blouses, sweaters, skirts and trousers.
Silk is natural fiber that comes from the silkworm's cocoon. There is a shortage of silk, which makes it an exclusive, luxury item. Silk stands out from other fibers in that it consists of one long thread. By comparison, wool and cotton are spun from short fibers. One cocoon can give a silk thread that is up to 1600 metres long.
The silk fiber is smooth and therefore also very soft and can absorb moisture up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp. Silk does not benefit from direct sunlight. The worst silk cocoons are used for spun silk yarn.
Silk should be washed gently. Use washing powder without enzymes, as silk can otherwise become deformed and even break.
Siltex is a material that is highly antibacterial. Along with, for example, cotton, it has good temperature regulating properties. Siltex is breathable and sweat-transferring.
Skinlife is anti-bacterial and therefore widely used in products such as socks.
Slub Yarn is yarn of uneven thickness, which gives a special effect when it is knitted into jersey fabric or used to knit sweaters and other items of clothing.
Softshell is a polyester material that is wind-repellent and can withstand a little rain. Softshell is not waterproof nor completely windproof, enabling the skin to breathe and get rid of sweat during physical activity. It is possible to make the softshell waterproof, windproof and breathable by placing a membrane on the back of
the softshell material. Softshell is flexible and provides great freedom of movement. A softshell jacket is useful as a transitional jacket in the spring and autumn, where there are significant temperature changes.
Spandex, also known as elastane. Spandex is an elastic, polyurethane fibre. It is often used in materials for underwear, swimwear and hosiery. Europe uses the term elastane for spandex. In the rest of the world, trade names such as Lycra, Elaspan and Dorlastan are used.
Synthetic fibres like polyamide, acrylic, polyester, chlorine, modacrylic fibre, polypropylene and elastane are produced from crude oil or natural gas.
TENCEL® is a brand name for Lyocell. TENCEL® is cellulose fibres from wood. It is produced without effluent discharge, and chemicals as well as water are recycled almost 100%. Clothes made of Tencel are colour-fast.
Thinsulate® is thin and insulating. Thinsulate® has the best insulating properties while feeling light and allowing great freedom to move. It consists of thin, synthetic fibres, which provide a dense and thin insulating layer with air pockets, which can retain body heat while transporting moisture. You can get Thinsulate® gloves, hats, work boots, work jackets and winter jackets.
Twill is a weaving method that creates a diagonal pattern in the fabric. Fabrics woven using this method are generally softer and shrink less. Denim is often woven as twill, and here one of the threads is white and the other is coloured.
T400® is an elastic fibre which has the amazing ability to pull fabric back into its original shape. Clothing made with T400® has high comfort and elasticity without any elastic fibres being added. In addition, T400® can transfer moisture and keep its shape well.
Wool typically comes from sheep. Below you can see the different kinds of wool.
- Merino Wool is very soft.
- Coarser wool such as crossbred is less expensive than merino and has a higher abrasion resistance, whilst also being more robust when worn and washed.
- Alpaca wool from the alpaca llama is soft and shiny.
- Pashmina is another term for cashmere wool. Pashmina are very fine, thin and soft fibres from the belly of the Kashmir goat.
- Angora wool is from Angora rabbits. It is fine and soft, almost like camel wool.
- Mohair wool comes from angora goats. Mohair is long-fibre which is quite coarse, while also being shiny and soft.
- Shetland wool comes from a breed of sheep that originates from the north coast of Scotland. It is weatherproof, fine, soft and of a high quality that is cheaper than merino wool, but it may scratch a little more.
- Lambswool is the wool from the first time the sheep is sheared. It is fine, soft and does not shrink.
Wool is very suitable for wool sweaters, wool underwear and wool socks. It is temperature-regulating and can absorb a lot of moisture without appearing damp. It is dirt-repellent; an airing out on the clothesline can be done occasionally in place of washing. Wool is hard to ignite and it burns slowly. If it is combined with synthetic material, it has excellent properties such as a thermal effect, washability and durability.
Vibram® is a brand that produces soles for footwear that require exceptional foothold. It was originally produced for mountain climbing. Vibram is constantly developing rubber compositions and innovating solutions based on possible obstacles. Running shoes and work footwear featuring Vibram® provide a great foothold.
Viscose, also known as rayon, is a regenerated fibre*, made from degraded and chemically treated wood. Viscose is called a synthetic fibre, in spite of the fact that it is based on a natural material. It was originally produced in an attempt to make silk cheaper and more accessible.
The raw materials are quite cheap, most often they come from pine, eucalyptus, bamboo or the cotton plant.
Viscose can be glossy and consist of infinitely long fibres that resemble silk, or of short, matte fibres that look and behave more like cotton and wool. Viscose is used in sweaters, dresses, underwear, blouses and trousers, amongst other things.
Regenerated fibres such as viscose and rayon are derived from cellulose from trees. With chemicals, the cellulose is transformed into a viscous mass that is regenerated or rebuilt into fibres. Viscose, rayon, cupro, modal, lyocell, etc., belong in the category of regenerated fibres. Avril, arnel, bemberg, cupro, lyocell, modal, cupresa, dicel, polynosic, rayon, rhodia, sarille, swelan, triacetate, tricel and tencel fall under the cellulose fibres acetate and triacetate. Viscose is the most widely used of the regenerated fibres.
37.5® is a technology that works with the body's natural mechanisms to maintain the most comfortable temperature for the body. 37.5® is embedded in the fibres and therefore cannot be washed away. It helps evaporate the moisture from your body, so that the clothes feel dry and you quickly warm up when it is cold, and conversely, the skin feels cool when it is warm. Workwear with 37.5® technology is comfortable to work in because it keeps the body temperate.