What is clothing made of?

Textile guide

Choosing the right material for your workwear or leisurewear can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, at Pro-dress, we know all about the different types of fabric, and we're ready to help you navigate the options. In this textile guide, you can read about the various materials and their properties.

Acrylic or polyacrylic and polychloride are soft and lightweight materials that can withstand sunlight and most chemicals. Acrylic, also known as orlon, courtelle, or dralon, is not as durable as nylon and polyester. Clothing made of acrylic is very sensitive to heat and can lose its shape during washing, tumble drying, and ironing at high temperatures. Crimped, bulky acrylic fibers in knitwear have good insulation properties because they can hold a lot of air.

Aramide is a synthetic fiber that is heat-resistant and strong. Therefore, it is often used in flame-resistant workwear. Aramid is also used in bulletproof vests, which speaks to its strength.

Armortex® is a DuPont™ Kevlar® fiber. Armortex® adds strength and flexibility to textiles. It is a lightweight fiber that is incredibly strong and durable. Armortex® can make clothing and footwear safe and cut-resistant.

Bamboo is the world's fastest-growing plant and absorbs more CO2 than trees. Additionally, bamboo requires no watering, pesticides, or pest control. It is therefore a sustainable plant that is also biodegradable. Bamboo can be processed and used for clothing production. Bamboo fiber has a silky sheen. Even after repeated washes, bamboo clothing remains soft, breathable, antibacterial, and odor-free because bamboo naturally reduces the amount of bacteria in the fabric.

Bionic Finish® Eco provides textiles with a permanent water-repellent finish. As the word Eco suggests, it is an ecological technology that is completely free of fluorine. Bionic Finish® Eco is used especially in water-resistant clothing for outdoor activities, hunting clothing, and coveralls.

Canvas is a heavy-weight woven fabric made of cotton or linen. It is a durable and breathable material that can be used for bags, shoes, outerwear, etc.

COOLMAX® wicks moisture away from the body and ensures that the fabric dries faster, giving you a comfortable cool and dry feeling on the body. Coolmax® is polyester fibers specially designed with increased surface area to wick moisture away from the skin and out to the outermost layer of the fabric, where it can evaporate. The Coolmax® function is built into the fiber structure and is therefore retained after washing.

CORDURA® is a very durable material, with nylon being the main content. Cordura® is ten times stronger than cotton, three times stronger than regular polyester fiber, and twice as strong as regular nylon. Therefore, it is often used as reinforcement on workwear in areas that are particularly prone to wear.

Cotton is the name of the fiber that grows around the seeds of a cotton plant. Cotton fiber is used as a raw material for textile production and is one of the world's most commonly used textile fibers. Clothing made of cotton is breathable, moisture-absorbing, and comfortable to wear close to the body. However, cotton itself is not thermally insulating. It becomes so only when it is fluffed up, creating an insulating air layer. Additionally, there is combed cotton, which is a very soft and highly durable quality material. In combed cotton, the fibers are specially treated before being spun into yarn.

Denim is a durable and relatively heavy material. It is mainly made of cotton, but at times, it can contain polyester, viscose, or elastane. Denim fabric is twill-woven, meaning it forms "ribs" diagonally in the fabric. It is recommended to minimize washing denim clothing as it wears on the color and fibers of the material. If you still need to wash your denim trousers or other denim-made items, you can advantageously do so at a low temperature and inside out.

Down is the soft, insulating layer beneath the feathers of ducks, geese, and other birds. It has a fantastic ability to keep the body warm and is extremely comfortable to wear since down is a breathable lightweight material. No other materials provide such an optimal balance between insulation and weight.

Down can maintain its properties for years if well cared for. In fact, the best and finest down can retain almost the same insulating effect for up to 40-50 years if maintained properly. Therefore, down in a down jacket or vest can easily last throughout the garment's lifespan.

Dyneema® is an extremely strong yet very light fiber. It is used in workwear in places where the clothing is most exposed to wear. Dyneema® retains its color because it is integrated into the fiber and not just applied as an outer layer.

Elastane is a highly elastic fiber akin to rubber but stronger and more resistant to sunlight. Its elongation capability is up to 400%. Elastane is mixed with other materials and is often used in sportswear and underwear because of its comfortable elasticity.

Elastomultiester is a polyester fiber blended with other materials to achieve stretchable fabric. Clothing containing elastomultiester is extremely elastic and retains its original shape even after repeated use.

Fibre pile is a washable synthetic material resembling lambswool. Sometimes it's also called teddy fabric. Fibre pile is a soft and insulating material used in jackets and vests.

Fleece is a soft and stretchable material that is warmer than regular cotton. Extra yarn is knitted into the reverse side and then brushed, creating the extra soft backside. Fleece is also called sweatshirt fabric or jogging fabric because it is especially used for sweatshirts and sportswear where good freedom of movement is required.

Fuseknit is a manufacturing method designed to create products with minimal seams. Fuseknit technology is used in sportswear and running shoes, among other things.

Gore-Tex® is a windproof and waterproof membrane filled with tiny holes that are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. The holes are precisely small enough to prevent water and wind from penetrating but large enough to allow vapor from your body to escape, keeping you dry. Gore-Tex® technology is used in shoes, boots, jackets, and pants.

Isoli is a soft and stretchy material that is warmer than regular cotton. The reverse side has extra yarn knitted in, which is then brushed to make it extra soft. Isoli is also called sweatshirt fabric or jogging fabric because it is primarily used for sweatshirts and sportswear.

Kevlar is a highly strong fiber material made from synthetic fibers that are five times stronger than steel. Despite being a plastic material, Kevlar does not melt at high temperatures and is resistant to several chemicals. Kevlar is used in seams in welding gloves, safety shoes, and safety boots because it is heat-resistant. It is also used in work pants as reinforcement on knee pockets for craftsmen and floor layers where the knees are subject to heavy wear. The material is also used in bulletproof vests and helmets, demonstrating its extremely high abrasion resistance.

KneeGuard™ is a positioning system used for knee pads and knee pad pockets in craftsman trousers. KneeGuard™ ensures that the knee pads stay in place, providing optimal protection for your knees.

Leather is a natural material made by processing animal hides. It can be divided into various types and qualities:

  • Grain leather is the outermost layer of the hide and of the highest quality.
  • Split leather is the layer facing the animal's body. It can be split into various thicknesses depending on its use, having almost the same durability as full grain leather.
  • Bonded leather is the lowest quality, made from leftovers after tanning and processing. These remnants are glued together, resembling leather but with a different structure and less durability.
  • Aniline leather is very soft, with a natural surface showing the animal's insect bites, wrinkles, and beauty marks, and has fully open hair follicles. Aniline leather is highly absorbent and light-sensitive, making up only 5% of raw hides and thus considered exclusive leather.
  • Semi-aniline is full grain leather with a surface finish that leaves the leather's structure slightly visible. This makes semi-aniline easier to maintain and more resistant to stains, dirt, and moisture than aniline leather, with 10-15% of raw hides used for semi-aniline leather.
  • Corrected leather - also known as pigmented leather - has been dyed, sanded and buffed down to remove imperfections. The structure is then printed onto the surface, making it durable and easy to maintain. 80% of raw hides can be used as corrected leather.
  • Suede is a type of leather where the flesh side is the front, featuring a napped surface that gives the leather a distinct rough texture. Suede is a soft and flexible material.
  • Nubuck is the grain side of the leather, sanded after tanning and dyeing to achieve the same rough appearance as suede. Nubuck is more durable than suede.

Lifa® is a water-repellent polyester fiber that directs moisture away from the body and transports it to the fabric's surface. Lifa® is used in inner layer clothing, such as sweat-wicking thermal underwear and ski underwear, keeping your skin dry, warm, and comfortable.

It is not possible to print on Lifa® as the fibers repel the printing.

Linen comes from the stem of the flax plant. It has good tensile strength, is dirt-repellent, and absorbs moisture. Extracting linen is a laborious process, making it a relatively expensive material. A linen shirt or dress is especially comfortable to wear in summer because linen fabric has high absorbency. Linen tends to wrinkle a lot when washed but can be ironed with care.

Lycra® is the trademark for elastane, used in many fabrics to provide stretch. Additionally, LYCRA® helps garments return to their original shape after stretching. Lycra Dupont® is a registered trademark for lycra.

Lyocell is a regenerated cellulose, based on natural and renewable wood fibers broken down to their smallest components and rebuilt into new fibers. Lyocell is moisture-absorbing, temperature-regulating, and soft to wear.

Merino wool comes from merino sheep. It's an exclusive product, exceptionally fine, soft, and with a silky sheen.

Meryl® Skinlife is a highly antibacterial material that maintains the skin's natural balance and reduces unpleasant odors, commonly used in socks.

Microfibre is a synthetic fiber less than 1 denier in diameter, most often made of polyester and polyamide, known as nylon, kevlar, nomex, and trogamid. Microfiber is used in the production of nonwoven, woven, and knitted textiles, widely used in clothing, furniture, industrial filters, 

and cleaning cloths.

Modal is part of the "viscose family" and consists of semi-synthetic cellulose fibers. Modal and viscose are produced in almost the same way, and their properties are virtually indistinguishable. However, wet modal is stronger than viscose and maintains its shape better. Additionally, modal is stronger and lighter than regular viscose.

Neoprene is a flexible and insulating material. It is made of synthetic rubber filled with air bubbles. Neoprene is used, for example, for jackets and wetsuits.

Nylon - also called polyamide - is a synthetic product that surpasses all other fiber materials in both tear and abrasion resistance. Nylon does not shrink or wrinkle when washed because it does not absorb water by default. However, it is heat-sensitive and should therefore not be washed or ironed at high temperatures. Nylon or polyamide is a strong and stretchable material, especially used for sportswear, swimwear, and other stretchy products.

Oeko-tex® Standard 100 certification means that the clothing has been tested for harmful substances. This is an international standard with strict requirements for the products. It's not just the fabric that is tested, but all parts of the product, including labels, zippers, and filling materials. The certification is often simply referred to as Oeko-tex®.

Oxford is a weaving technique, but the word is often used as a designation. Oxford is a strong and soft fabric, often used for shirts because it wrinkles less than other shirt fabrics. It is woven in a "basket weave" with two warp yarns and a soft supplementary yarn. This provides more weight in the warp yarn. When woven with colored warp yarn and a white weft yarn, it is called Oxford Chambray.

Polartec® is an advanced form of textile based on recyclable materials. Polartec® wicks moisture away from the body, ensuring quick drying of the clothing. It is also a lightweight, soft, and breathable material that keeps the body warm. Polartec® has a plush structure and can be a vegan alternative to wool.

Polyacrylic comes from acrylic, which is a synthetic fiber. Acrylic is not as durable as polyester, but it is lightweight, fluffy, and thermally insulating.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is very common in clothing. Polyester fiber is used alone or blended with other fibers. Polyester is a strong material that does not shrink or wrinkle when washed. This is due to low water absorption.

Polyester can be produced with different surfaces, shapes, and properties such as flame retardant or antibacterial. It can be washed at the same high temperatures as cotton - however, one should consider the color of the fabric. Pleats and creases hold up in washing and use.

Polypropylene is lighter than other textile fibers. It is stretchable and strong and can withstand most chemicals. However, polypropylene is both light-sensitive and heat-sensitive, so it should be washed at low temperatures. Polypropylene fiber does not absorb liquid and ensures that moisture is transported to the outer layer. Therefore, it is often used in moisture-wicking clothing, baselayers, thermal underwear, and socks.

Poplin is a plain weave fabric, meaning there are twice as many warp threads as weft threads. Poplin can be made of cotton or a blend of cotton and polyester.

Primaloft® is a super lightweight material made of synthetic microfibers filled with air pockets. This provides a high degree of insulation. Primaloft® is water-repellent and breathable. It can keep you warm and dry even in extreme weather. Since Primaloft® is a lightweight material, it can easily be packed into a backpack or suitcase without taking up much space.

Prolen siltex is yarn that inhibits the growth of bacteria and mold. It reduces odor and is used, for example, in socks.

PU - also called polyurethane - is a synthetic material made from polymer. PU is known to be durable and flexible, and it is softer than PVC. Polyurethane is used, among other things, as a coating on rainwear and waders to achieve waterproofing. In addition to being a water-repellent material, PU is resistant to dirt, oil, grease, and many chemicals.

PVC or polyvinyl chloride, also called vinyl, is a rubbery plastic material that is less heat-sensitive than other synthetic fibers. PVC is made from salt and crude oil. It can be either hard and stiff or soft, depending on whether plasticizer has been added. PVC is one of the most commonly used plastic materials and is known for its durability and resistance to chemicals, water, and weather conditions. It can be used, for example, in rainwear, rubber boots, and protective gloves.

Regenerated fibres are made from cellulose from trees. With chemicals, cellulose is transformed into a mass that can then be regenerated or rebuilt into fibers.

Among regenerated fibers are viscose, rayon, modal, cupro, lyocell, and several others. Under cellulose fibers, acetate and triacetate include avril, arnel, bemberg, cupro, cupresa, dicel, lyocell, modal, polynosic, rayon, rhodia, sarille, swelan, triacetate, tricel, and tencel. Viscose is the most used of the regenerated fibers.

Ripstop is a special weaving method that prevents a tear from "running." The method prevents further damage to the fabric because the tear will quickly reach a point with a woven boundary and thus cannot expand further.

Scuba is a material similar to jersey or neoprene. It is very elastic and soft, making it particularly suitable for fine dresses, blouses, sweaters, skirts, and pants.

Silk is natural fibers from the cocoon of the silkworm. Silk is scarce, making it an exclusive luxury item. Silk stands out from other fibers in that it is one long thread rather than short fibers, as seen in wool and cotton. One cocoon can produce a silk thread up to 1600 meters long. Silk fiber is smooth and therefore very soft. It can absorb moisture up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp. Silk does not tolerate direct sunlight and should be washed gently with detergent without enzymes.

Siltex is a strong antibacterial material that is also breathable and moisture-wicking. Together with, for example, cotton, it has good temperature-regulating properties.

Slub Yarn is yarn of uneven thickness, which gives a special effect when knitted into jersey fabrics and used for knitwear, etc.

Softshell is a polyester material that is wind-resistant and can withstand some rain. Softshell is not waterproof or completely windproof. This ensures that the skin can breathe and get rid of sweat during physical activity. It is possible to make softshell waterproof, windproof, and breathable by adding a membrane to the back of the softshell material. Softshell is a flexible material that provides great freedom of movement.

Spandex - also called elastane - is an elastic polyurethane fiber commonly used in textiles for underwear and stockings. In Europe, the term elastane is used for spandex. In the rest of the world, terms like Lycra, Elaspan, and Dorlastan are used.

Synthetic fibers are industrial fibers used in textiles. One type is called chemofibers, which are artificially made from air, water, and oil-based products.

Another type is regenerated fibers. An example is viscose, made from cellulose from sources like cotton waste or wood. These fibers closely resemble cotton, as they can absorb large amounts of moisture and are comfortable to wear in both warm and cold weather. However, regenerated fibers are more delicate in washing than cotton and may wrinkle or shrink.

Common synthetic fibers include acrylic, nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. These fibers are smooth, which means dirt remains on the surface. Most synthetic fibers are strong, hardly wrinkle when washed, and dry quickly due to their low moisture absorption. However, the surface may pill or rub if the textile is loosely spun.

TENCEL® is a brand name for Lyocell and consists of cellulose fibers from wood. During the production of TENCEL®, 99.5% of the liquids are reused because the process takes place in a closed circuit. This ensures a more sustainable production. TENCEL® is temperature-regulating, moisture-absorbing, and antibacterial. To maintain these properties, it is recommended to minimize washing and wash the clothing at low temperatures.

Thinsulate® is an advanced insulation technology developed by 3M. As the name suggests, Thinsulate® is a thin and insulating material. Its unique structure consists of air pockets and thin microfiber threads, which trap body heat very effectively. At the same time, Thinsulate® wicks moisture away from the body, keeping you both warm and dry even in harsh weather conditions.

Twill is a weaving method that creates a diagonal pattern in the fabric. Fabrics woven using this method are generally soft and shrink less. Denim is often woven as twill.

T400® is an elastic fiber with a fantastic ability to bounce back the fabric to its original shape. Clothing with T400® provides high comfort and elasticity. Additionally, T400® is moisture-wicking and ensures that the garment maintains its fit even after repeated use.

Vibram® is a brand that produces soles for footwear with excellent grip. It was originally produced for mountain climbing. Vibram® continually develops rubber compounds and other solutions. Both running shoes and work footwear with Vibram® ensure a solid grip.

Viscose - also known as rayon - is a type of regenerated cellulose fiber produced by breaking down wood and treating it chemically. Viscose is considered a semi-synthetic fabric as it requires an extensive chemical process from fiber to fabric. The raw materials often come from pine, eucalyptus, bamboo, or the cotton plant. Viscose can have a shiny appearance and consist of infinitely long fibers resembling silk. It can also be in matte short fibers resembling cotton and wool.

Viscose is breathable and moisture-absorbing. The material itself is not elastic, but it can be mixed with, for example, elastane/spandex to make the fabric stretchable.

Wool typically comes from sheep, but it can also be from other animals. Wool is temperature-regulating and can absorb a lot of moisture without feeling wet. It is also dirt-repellent, antibacterial, and naturally breathable. Therefore, wool requires minimal washing. It's best to air wool on the clothesline rather than washing it most of the time.

The ignition point of wool is high, and it burns slowly. When mixed with synthetic fibers, it gains properties like thermal efficiency, washability, and durability. Here are some different types of wool:

  • Merino Wool is an exclusive type of wool that comes from Merino sheep. It is extremely soft and fine.
  • Coarser wool like crossbreeds are cheaper than Merino and have greater durability. Therefore, they are more robust in use and washing.
  • Alpaca wool comes from alpacas, which are related to llamas. Alpaca wool is glossy, soft, and generally warmer than sheep wool.
  • Pashmina is another term for cashmere wool. Pashmina consists of very fine, thin, and soft fibers from the Kashmir goat's underbelly.
  • Angora wool comes from Angora rabbits. It is fine and soft, almost like camel wool
  • Mohair wool comes from Angora goats. Mohair is long-fibered and has a somewhat coarse texture, yet it is glossy and soft.
  • Shetland wool comes from a breed of sheep originating from the Scottish northern coast. It is weather-resistant, fine, and of high quality. Shetland wool is cheaper than Merino wool, but it can be slightly scratchier.
  • Lambswool is the wool from the lamb's first shearing. It is fine, soft, and does not shrink.

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 fibers and therefore cannot be washed away. It helps to evaporate moisture and liquid from your body, so the clothing feels dry and comfortable to wear. Workwear with 37.5® technology is comfortable to work in because it keeps the body temperature regulated in both cold and hot weather.

We hope you've become wiser about textile and material choices. If you have any questions about products or materials, feel free to contact us at info@pro-dress.com