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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. Our Bamboo t-shirts and tops are probably the most commented-on items at Rapanui for the surprising softness and feel, and whilst there are some challenges to be considered, the fabric has amazing potential for sustainability.

Bamboo Clothing in 10 seconds
  • Bamboo grows fast and is low-input, so it's a great low impact plant for harvesting. Turning a woody grass into a textile is hard though, and requires heavy mechanical and chemical processing. For environmental impact, Bamboo's input is low in the field and high in the factory, almost the opposite of 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 for comfort.

At Rapanui we use organic cotton for almost all of our casualwear and Bamboo is a small proportion of our volume. 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. Our Bamboo yarn is OEKOTEX certified, processed in a closed loop REACH-compliant dyehouse and blended with certified organic cotton.

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. 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 viscose 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. As a low process input crop, it could potentially prove to be a solid carbon sink too, reducing carbon 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 - a basic stamp to reassure consumers that the product is free of harmful-chemicals. We blend the bamboo with 50% certified organic cotton for drape and increased longevity, with the same extra soft feel.


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