Bamboo Clothing

As soft as silk, half the price and fast-growing without water, Bamboo is simply the fastest growing, high yield, low input crop in the world.

As Bamboo doesn't require pesticides or fertilisers, Bamboo has lots of potential as a source of sustainable textiles, not to mention the softness and kind-to-skin properties that make them feel amazing. Bamboo t-shirts and tops are bestsellers at Rapanui and have amazing potential for sustainability.

Bamboo Clothing in 10 seconds
  • Bamboo grows fast and is low-input, so it's a great plant for harvesting with minimum impact. Turning a woody grass into a textile is hard though, and requires chemical and mechanical processing. For environmental impact, Bamboo scores high in the field and low in the factory, unlike cotton. It feels completely different too, being much softer, almost silky. Good quality bamboo clothing looks great, feels great and has some great environmental benefits, when it's done right. Shop Mens Bamboo or Womens Bamboo for more.

In our customer satisfaction surveys, Rapanui bamboo clothes consistently score the highest approval ratings.

At Rapanui we use organic cotton for 80% of our casualwear and Bamboo as part of the remainder. The potential for replacing cotton, which uses lots of water, is immense but in some ways offset by the intensive processing required to turn bamboo into a fabric. From an impact point of view, making a decision between which fabric is better is a swings-and-roundabouts case. There are other factors to consider, such as the social impact, provenenance, durability, funtion and end-of-life phase of the products. As with all sustainability, it's not all black and white.

Turning Bamboo into clothing: How is that even possible?
"Bamboo fabric is what is called a reconstructed or “semi synthetic” fabric . Instead of possessing naturally occurring fibrous consistency that can be spun into threads and then material, bamboo is reduced down to its most basic elements at molecular level (polymers) and then this goo is shot through a nozzle to make stringy bits that get spun into a fabric."

To turn bamboo into fabric it is first harvested, then the leaves and inner pith are crushed mechanically. The pieces are soaked in a solution (sodium hydroxide) for a few hours to turn them into cellulose which is one of the basic building blocks of plant life. This takes place in specialist farms in China.

The cellulose is then dried, pressed, crushed and left out for evaporation to remove some of the chemical residue. The remainder is added again to a solution and forced through a spinnerette, like a shower head or nozzle. On the other side it is rapidly cured to form a material similar to cotton wool that can be woven into a fabric. This process takes place in a facility with OEKO-TEX (chemi- cal confidence in textiles) standard conditions in an ISO 14001 factory. The bamboo fibres are incredibly soft, almost like silk.

The bamboo fibre is then transported to India, to an ethically-accredited manufacturing facility where it is mixed with a small percentage of certified organic cotton. It is essential to add cotton for durability.The facility in India is powerered by it’s own dedicated wind farm. The finished fabric is dyed, cut and sewn to specification and shipped direct to the UK.

This process, where Bamboo is reduced down to a basic cellulose then reformed is why it is classed as a regenerated fabric and known sometimes as bamboo viscouse or viscose rayon.

What's so good about Bamboo?

Bamboo thrives naturally: The yield per hectare is 10 times greater than cotton and the input of water, fertilisers and other resources is almost zero. It's a grass too, so it doesn't need replanting, which helps reduce topsoil erosion. It grows up to a yard a day in places, efficiently pulling in sunlight and greenhouse gases and converting it into biomass. For these reasons, Bamboo has a lot of potential for sustainability.

bamboo crop image  
No to harmful chemicals.

Our bamboo products come with Oeko-Tex 100 Certification. This helps ensure that this stage of the supply chain is comprehensively and responsibly cared for - there are no harmful chemicals in the finished product and no harmful chemicals went into the making of the product.

Bamboo TLDR

We are satisfied that a lot that can be done for the environment, and health and safety, is being done at where our bamboo clothing is made - but our advice is to try to shop, as always, with the supply chain in mind: Buy your Bamboo carefully.


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