A Surprising Ingredient Can Turn Cotton Into a Performance Fabric

microscoping photo of a cork particle
Microstructure of a cork particle of 125–250 µm size [21].
Cotton, the world’s most popular natural fiber, has a lot to recommend it. It’s lightweight, breathable, absorbent, and biodegradable. But for all these benefits, it suffers from some drawbacks that prevent it from being even more widely used, such as wrinkling easily and being too light for cold weather.

In a new paper, Preeti Arya and Ajoy K. Sarkar, Textile Development and Marketing, look at a possible natural improvement to expand cotton’s uses, bringing it closer to a performance fabric. In “Cotton–Cork Blended Fabric: An Innovative and Sustainable Apparel Textile for the Fashion Industry,” published in April in the peer-reviewed journal Sustainability, the duo compared the material properties of a cotton fabric to a 10 percent-cork fabric, which is also a natural and sustainable material. The cotton-cork blend was found to be strong, pliable, easily dyed, and resistant to shrinkage, giving it, the authors conclude, “the potential to be a viable, sustainable apparel textile.”

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