What makes bamboo clothing so unique, and why bamboo is an eco-conscious fiber loved by sustainable brands everywhere?
Let's look together at the pros and cons of bamboo clothing!
And this comes from not only a designer sewing with bamboo fabric but also someone who has to wash and press it before each photoshoot, so I can honestly
tell you how much work goes into the bamboo care. Not to mention my friends are obsessed with my kimonos, so they expect to see me in it every time we hang out and I'm an absolute people-pleaser.
1. Pro: It's suitable for sensitive skin
Bamboo fabric is luxuriously soft, so soft that it feels like it lightly floats on your skin. In fact, it is much softer than cotton, wool, or even viscose! Bamboo is to cotton what cashmere is to wool – a softer and more luxurious feel. Read how here.
That combined with the fact that bamboo fiber is hypoallergenic makes the bamboo fabric a perfect choice for sensitive or damaged skin.
A rule of thumb is to always look for clothes dyed with toxic-free dyes, that way you know for sure your clothing will not trigger any allergic reaction. Our bamboo is dyed with certified non-toxic dyes, which means that you can wear bamboo kimonos and dresses on long days out without worrying about your delicate skin.
2. Con: Bamboo is more expensive
Unfortunately most bamboo costs more than cotton, especially if you are looking for sustainably grown, organic bamboo rather than bamboo rayon. Since bamboo grows much faster and does not require pesticides, this might come as a surprise. But the difference is in the growing process.
Cultivation, processing and manufacturing with cotton takes place on an enormous scale compared to the “cottage industry” levels of production we have with bamboo. These scales and quantities of production have a far greater influence on the cost of a finished product than the simple rate at which the raw material grows. - Bambu Batu
Since bamboo is grown on a smaller scale, it's easier to ensure fair working conditions, but that reflects the price.
You can see the difference while shopping for bamboo underwear, something that's usually quite affordable. In fact, 53% of shoppers have expressed that the cost is the sole reason why they don't choose sustainable clothing. If you want to know more about why sustainable fashion is so expensive - read our post!
3. Pro: Stays fresh for longer
It’s the bacteria that make your clothing smell bad. Because bamboo clothing is antibacterial and absorbent, moisture doesn’t sit on the surface of our fabric – as it does with synthetic fabrics – air can’t get to the odour-causing bacteria. Your clothing stays fresher for longer and you get more wears before needing to wash it.
Not only this makes your clothing more practical, but washing your clothing less leads to more eco-conscious life, as you don't use as much electricity and water. Plus washing your clothes often leads to a drastic decrease in the lifespan of your beloved clothes.
Our bamboo kimonos are printed and dyed in a way that is machine wash safe, but we still urge our customers to only wash clothes when they absolutely need to. It saves you time, money and your wardrobe!
4. Con: Wrinkles!
Take it from someone who uses clothing for photos every week, packs it in a suitcase, travels to the destination, and then bends over backward for that sweet Instagram content - bamboo clothing wrinkles very easily and needs ironing often.
Similarly to linen and fine cotton, bamboo fabric creases and wrinkles. I know a lot of people who love that texture, therefore wrinkled-effect clothing is an actual thing. You can avoid it by storing your bamboo garments on a hanger, and even spraying it with crease release sprays, but still - it's something you have to be mindful of.
The good news is - since bamboo is a natural fibre, it irons and steams very quickly. In fact, it's quite satisfying to do. But despite that, ironing is not my all-time favourite activity, so I'm mindful of how I store my bamboo clothing and, when possible, avoid folding it tightly when I travel.
5. Pro: It's super sustainable
I would be crazy as a sustainable fashion designer not to highlight how environmentally friendly bamboo is.
Part of what makes bamboo sustainable is its ability to grow fast and thrive on poor soils. This means it doesn't need pesticides to encourage growth and it regrows after harvest, meaning it's easily renewable.
There's a lot of speculation about bamboo's sustainability since a lot of larger manufacturers are exploiting this amazing plant and seeking faster, cheaper ways to harvest it. However, if you choose bamboo clothing that's also organic and fair trade (hello!), that ensures the plant is grown in an eco-conscious way while providing a fair living to the farmers.
Bamboo has also been shown to produce more oxygen than trees, according to research by Central European University and it's biodegradable since it's a plant-based material grown without harsh chemicals.
6. Con: Slow drier
Bamboo clothing absorbs water quickly, meaning it's breathable and antibacterial. Sadly, this also means that when washed - there's lots of water that has to evaporate.
It scared the living hell out of me the first time I washed my bamboo fabric. It went from this drapey, lightweight, a silky cloth into stiff and heavy blob, that almost felt like crumbled paper. That is caused by the fact that bamboo absorbs 3 times its weight in water. I'm telling you this now, because the first wash will be a bit of a shock, but don't worry - your super-soft fabric is still there.
I lived in countries where the sunshine was strong and the air was dry, so I never faced any issues with my washing. But now as a UK resident, I know first-hand how tricky it is to dry your washing completely. A dehumidifier is a lifesaver, and it surely helps with bamboo clothing. But if you prefer to dry your clothes naturally, the sun is your friend and you might need to allow extra time for bamboo to get rid of all that water.
There's a great article on caring for your bamboo clothing here.
7. Pro: UV protection
I had NO idea that bamboo fabric offers UV protection until this very post. In fact, the bamboo fabric protects you naturally from the sun’s harmful rays, filtering up to 97.5% of UV radiation.
The fabric feels very light, but in fact, it is a strong barrier between your skin and the outside world. It traps heat on cold days and cools you on cold ones by being thermoregulatory, making it a plant-based shield from the weather.
When going on holiday, or spending day in the garden with your girls, bamboo kimono or top will be a great choice to feel comfortable and protected.
Bamboo never fails to amaze me - regulating temperature, fighting bacteria, and protecting your delicate skin AND the environment.
The biggest downside is how high maintenance it can be. Expensive and demanding (like some of us) can be considered a luxury treat, but while it asks for a lot - it gives even more in return!