The Top Eco-Fabrics for 2020

women standing in custom made gym wear clothing


Source: Girlfriend Collective via Pinterest 

In the age of Greta Thunberg, climate change and plant-based diets, the eco movement is now becoming mainstream, with millions seeking sustainable and eco-friendly options for everything from plastic straws to fashion.  

In the fashion industry alone, there are micro-movements impacting global fashion sales, which include the slow fashion movements as opposed to fast fashion. The recent bankruptcy of Forever21 is just one indication of where the market is heading.  

The other hot topic in the fashion industry is second-hand clothing - whether it's upcycling, recycling, renting, or consignment of luxury goods. The rise of this is demonstrated by the growing popularity of eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Rent the Runway and Poshmark 

If you're thinking of starting an eco-fashion line, you've come to the right place. Eco-athleisure and activewear is a growing market for consumers looking for sustainable options. Below we talk about the brands spearheading this movement along with alternatives to the usual fabrics you may want to integrate in your next collection.  

Here are the top five eco-activewear brands trending right now: 


Patagonia is a company who is dedicated to serving their people, profit and planet. Their mission is to donate their time, services and at least 1 percent of their sales to help hundreds of grass roots organisations all over the world so that they can remain vigilant and protect what is irreplaceable.  


Girlfriend Collective is the hottest sustainable activewear brand right now. Their ethos is around creating activewear with ethical manufacturing and recycled materials. "Because old water bottles and fishing nets look better on you than they do clogging landfills and polluting oceans". 

Some of their styles are made in partnership with Healthy Seas, where a percentage of each sale goes to helping clean up the oceans. 

various women in gym clothes, sports bras, leggings looking at the camera

Source: Girlfriend Collective via Pinterest 


Alternative Apparel are on a mission to create a globally, socially and environmentally conscious brand. All of their garments are crafted with sustainable materials and processes, including organic and recycled materials, low-impact dyes and water-conserving washes. 

They use materials such as organic cotton and eco-friendly packaging. 


Adidas have just announced they will follow a Sustainability Roadmap for 2020 in the aim to optimise their environmental impact. The company has opted to use more sustainable materials in production and address water efficiency, energy consumption and CO2 emissions. 


Outdoor Voices is a brand which prides itself on designing their product through 'the lens of longevity and circularity to reduce their environmental impact'. They have opted to reduce their use of conventional fabrics in favour of sustainable alternatives - including recpoly, merino wool, megafleececloudknit and more. 

Source: Outdoor Voices via Pinterest 

Here are some sustainable fabric options to consider when you're building your next collection with Slyletica: 


Wool is a hair produced by certain animals, and is a great material to use, as it is:  

  • Warm 
  • Breathable 
  • Recyclable 
  • Long-lasting  
  • Requires little water 
  • Versatile 
  • Does not hold sweat smells  

Farming wool with strong environmental practices can restore and enhance the land, as grazing sheep helps improve soil quality, sequester carbon from the atmosphere and allow the land to absorb and retain water.  

During artisanal and indigenous wool farming practices animals are well cared for and treated with respect, rather than as a resource.  



Lyocell is a man-made cellulose fibre most commonly derived from carbon-neutral wood pulp, and is completely biodegradable. Tencel is the trademarked name of a type of Lyocell which uses wood stock from certified sustainably managed forests and GM free. 

The material is great, as it is: 

  • Fully biodegradable  
  • Non-hazardous processing system 
  • Has a high absorbency of colour  
  • Anti-bacterial  
  • Soft, breathable, lightweight and comfortable 
  • Smooth and soft surface  
  • Moisture wicking and great for sensitive skin  
  • Versatile finish 
  • Resistant to wrinkles  
  • Described as ‘softer than silk and cooler than linen’ 

Lyocell is made from renewable cellulose soft wood crop, and requires less chemical processing, water and energy than other materials, meaning it doesn’t result in chemically laden water waste. 

The finished product does not require bleaching and can be coloured using low impact dying solutions.  

 woman in gym clothes on tennis court



Linen is a natural fibre which is derived from the flax plant and is often considered the world's strongest natural fibre. The flax crop is highly effective and yields a far greater amount of fibre than cotton and is a more sustainable choice in comparison to conventional cotton, viscose or other synthetic fabrics. 

Linen is a great fabric as it is:  

  • Highly breathable  
  • Uses minimal water and pesticides to grow  
  • Biodegradable  
  • Recyclable  
  • Long-lasting and ages well  
  • Doesn’t require chemicals to be processed into textile   

Linen can be cultivated without fertilizers and grown on marginal land that is unsuitable for food crop production and created through methods which are far eco-friendlier and avoid the affects normally caused by water retted linen.  

Person in linen streetwear



Organic cotton is cotton which is produced and certified to organic agricultural standards. Its production sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people, by using natural processes rather than artificial inputs. Organic cotton combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote good quality of life for all involved.  

Organic cotton is great as it is: 

  • Moisture wicking  
  • Has a high level of colour absorption  
  • Stabilizes other eco-fabrics  
  • Sensitive skin friendly  
  • Pesticide and fertilizer free 
  • Has a cleaner manufacturing and production process 
  • Has less overall pollution  
  • Results in better crop diversity and soil health 
  • The impact on wildlife and their ecosystems is lessened 
  • Yields of organic cotton can be as high-quality as conventional cotton  
  • Softer than conventional cotton 

No toxic chemicals are used to produce organic cotton, meaning it doesn't damage soil, has less impact on the air and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy.   

Organic cotton is 80% rain fed, which reduces the pressure on local water sources, as conventional cotton is often grown in water scarce areas using irrigation. The absence of chemicals and toxins means the water is cleaner and safer.  

Organic cotton is that 80% rain fed



Hemp is a natural fibre derived from the stem of the cannabis sativa plant which requires very little water to produce. It contains an extremely minute amount of the psychoactive properties of cannabis. 

Hemp is great as it is: 

  • One of the most eco-friendly fibres 
  • Requires no pesticides, crowds out weeds without herbicides, controls erosion of topsoil and produces oxygen 
  • Extremely versatile and renewable 
  • The strength of hemp is eight times that of cotton 
  • Exceptionally durable  
  • Hypo-allergenic and non-irritating to the skin 
  • Material will soften with age 
  • Breathable and absorbs moisture 

Hemp is a densely grown plant that will ‘choke out’ any competing plants and is naturally resistant to pests, thus there is not a need for chemical herbicides.  

The material naturally returns 60-70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil and requires very little amount of earth to be cultivated.  This means it can produce up to double the yield per hectare than conventional cotton.  

woman in sports bra and leggings activewear



Modal is a type of regenerated cellulose fibre. The fibres are stretched and treated during production to increase molecular alignment, which in turn gives a stronger, lighter and finer fibre. 

Modal is a great material as it is:

  • Water absorbent 
  • Soft on the skin 
  • Inexpensive  
  • Biodegradable  
  • Strong and durable 
  • Easy to care for  
  • Doesn't wrinkle 
  • Resistant to shrinkage  
  • Resists pilling 

The modal fibres can be manufactured from renewable sources such as beechwood or sustainable forests in Austria, which in turn safeguards resources for future generations. 

The fibre has a high absorbency rate which means less water is required during processing and dyeing.  

woman in gym clothes legging and sports bra sitting on chair 



Bamboo fabric is made from pulp of bamboo grass. The bamboo used to produce fabrics is not the same as Panda food, however it is often considered one of the most sustainable plants. 

Bamboo is a great fabric as it is:

  • Highly water absorbent  
  • It does not require fertilizers or pesticides  
  • Matures in just two years  
  • Has strong moisture wicking abilities  
  • Great for both hot and cool climates  
  • Has great temperature control  
  • Doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals  
  • Hypoallergenic  
  • Soft to touch 
  • Quick drying  
  • Can look and feel like silk or cotton  
  • Anti-bacterial and odourless  
  • UV resistant 

Bamboo is naturally pest resistant and can crowd out weeds, so there is no need for pesticides or herbicides. It also replenishes very quickly. 

Women in activewear standing in lush tropical area



Cupro is the by-product of the industrial harvest of cotton, specifically the waste fibres that are too small to be spun. Otherwise known as cotton linter, it is an ultra-fine, silky fibre which sticks to cotton seeds during the textile production process and is usually thrown away. 

Major cupro producers have set goals of zero emission and energy conservation.  

Cupro is a great material as it is: 

  • A waste product of cotton  
  • Naturally biodegradable  
  • Easily recycled  
  • Requires less dye than other materials 
  • Hypoallergenic  
  • Breathable  
  • Anti-static  
  • Stretch-resistant 

You can start building your eco brand with us today.  

Book your discovery with one of our Brand Specialists here. Let’s begin building out your business plan together. 

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