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smittycl

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There has been a long history here of people believing their clothes are made from natural fibers when, in fact, they are not. There was the famous Simonnot Godard chambray debacle. Will at ASW once wrote about another shirting that was "naturally wrinkle free." It was, in fact, a synthetic blend. There's a very esteemed knitwear maker that's often discussed on here. I interviewed the head of their company once about one of their more famous sweater styles. Although it's labeled as a pure natural fiber, it was in fact a synthetic blend.

There's an artist who, last year, had an exhibition at a Chicago museum. She took sample swatches from something like 100 "natural fiber" garments and had the fibers examined in a lab. I can't remember the percentage that came back as a synthetic blend, but it was shockingly high.

Think about it: how would an over-the-calf sock stay up your leg if it was made without synthetic? Cotton doesn't have a crimp. Wool fibers do, but can't be stretched and returned to that degree. Just because something is labeled as a natural fiber item does not make it so.
I have to agree. I refuse to buy any shirts, pants, tailoring, etc. that's made with synthetics. Socks, underwear, athletic gear, however, are horrible without it.
 

clee1982

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I think I have gone down the path..., I definitely have shirt with synthetic (traveller shirt from kamakura), on tailoring I think I have "some" (from higher end too, like Sartorio) with small synthetic blend, never bothered me.
 

smittycl

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There's a very easy way to settle this debate.

Natural fibers derived from plants and animals fully decompose in the body. Synthetic fibers do not. This is why there's a raging debate about how synthetic fibers are winding up in the ocean, as they're being eaten by fish, which are then consumed by us.

Eat your Sovereign Grade sock and then see if remanents of it show up in your poop. For obvious reasons, I recommend eating a sock in a bright color, such as pink, rather than brown.

Woody Allen 1960s stand up about moths eating his sport jacket. He feeds them socks next.
 

dieworkwear

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More seriously, you can just burn the sock to see if the smoke is different. Synthetic blends burn black smoke. Natural fibers release grey smoke. This is what Foo was trying to prove about SG chambray in that video. And when he proved that there was something weird about the chambray, SG eventually relented and said that, upon checking, their chambray has synthetic.

Notably, in that debacle, you had to go through a long supply chain. The people who originally sold those fabrics, Rubinacci, Matuozzo, and Will of ASW, all claimed the fabric was pure cotton because that's what they were told. I believe Will got his stock from a distributor. He contacted the distributor, who then contacted the mill, who then had to contact the yarn supplier. And then even though all that, it was unclear which batches of shirting were synthetic blends. Many people don't know the true composition of their products because info is sometimes lost or purposely misrepresented in a long supply chain.

If you really want to find out, cut the sock's upper rib away from the base. Now burn then rib and burn the base. Compare them and you'll have a cheap way of telling whether the yarns are different. At the very least, if it's admitted that the rib is a synthetic blend, and the two smokes are the same, then the base also has synthetic. If the smoke is black, you will also know that this is a synthetic blend.
 

FlyingHorker

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I have to agree. I refuse to buy any shirts, pants, tailoring, etc. that's made with synthetics. Socks, underwear, athletic gear, however, are horrible without it.
For me it's less of a dealbreaker. I've a Schott peacoat with 30% synthetic exterior and a quilted nylon lining. Some parts of the coat have worn away from the exterior finish, revealing the weave, but it's also 6 years old and was put through a lot of abuse.

I just bought a coat that I loved the look of, and has 2% polyurethane in the exterior. I'm not going to pass it up just because of that.

I had a cotton SC with 2% spandex and it felt amazing. The drape was terrible though. I've a pair of dressier chinos with 2% spandex and they also drape like garbage.

I do wonder how much microplastic any of my synthetic clothing sheds in the washer and dryer though.
 

smittycl

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For me it's less of a dealbreaker. I've a Schott peacoat with 30% synthetic exterior and a quilted nylon lining. Some parts of the coat have worn away from the exterior finish, revealing the weave, but it's also 6 years old and was put through a lot of abuse.

I just bought a coat that I loved the look of, and has 2% polyurethane in the exterior. I'm not going to pass it up just because of that.

I had a cotton SC with 2% spandex and it felt amazing. The drape was terrible though. I've a pair of dressier chinos with 2% spandex and they also drape like garbage.

I do wonder how much microplastic any of my synthetic clothing sheds in the washer and dryer though.
I'm kind of a purist for, I'm sure, purely egotistical reasons. I do have a Barbour Challenger with a shell that's a wool/polyidamide blend. Love it too much to complain about it.
Barbour-Herringbone-Challenger-Tweed-Shooting-Jacket-Coat-Mens.jpg
 

FlyingHorker

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I'm kind of a purist for, I'm sure, purely egotistical reasons. I do have a Barbour Challenger with a shell that's a wool/polyidamide blend. Love it too much to complain about it.
View attachment 1540332
I totally get it. Menswear lore for having arguably antiquated natural substances feels more cool than synthetics.

I was fascinated by the fact another coat of mine was undyed wool used from different colours of sheep.
 

FlyingHorker

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Synthetic fibers are also natural. They're made from dinosaur bones.
On a serious note, this does help to highlight the absurdity of this constructed purism we adopt, I think you mentioned the environmental aspects of clothing in another thread and the complexity involved.

I remember reading that denim cotton was one of the most toxic processes in all of clothing manufacturing, but that is technically 100% cotton.
 

Nobilis Animus

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The burn test is undoubtedly the best way to test fabrics. I would like to add that some natural fibres do have some stretch to them, like silk, but that over the calf sock are prone to sagging regardless. There was a reason for sock garters in the past.

I actually don't care about the environmentalism of my clothing choices, but it so happens that they're actually 'greener' than some of my acquaintances who profess a stronger opinion on the topic. I find that silly.
 

smittycl

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On a serious note, this does help to highlight the absurdity of this constructed purism we adopt, I think you mentioned the environmental aspects of clothing in another thread and the complexity involved.

I remember reading that denim cotton was one of the most toxic processes in all of clothing manufacturing, but that is technically 100% cotton.
I still have my "kid in the 70s" bias against poly stuff. Wore too much cheap junk when I was younger. Also, it wears hot for me.
 

clee1982

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Most of mine outwear are synthetic blend..., I guess the only environment positive part I got is
1. they never broke, so I never bought anything new to replace
2. i wash them maybe once a year or every two years...

I suppose I can take wax cotton as an alternative, but I never liked that idea
 

Nobilis Animus

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Woody Allen 1960s stand up about moths eating his sport jacket. He feeds them socks next.
Another relevant selection:

"I started to live the part offstage, y'know. I really came on God, there, I was really fabulous, I put on a blue suit, I took taxi cabs all over New York. I tipped big, 'cause he would have. I got into a fight with a guy, and I forgave him. It's true. Some guy hit my fender and I said unto him...I said, "Be fruitful and multiply", but not in those words."
 

Encathol Epistemia

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I still have my "kid in the 70s" bias against poly stuff. Wore too much cheap junk when I was younger. Also, it wears hot for me.
I wasn't a, "kid in the 70s," but when I was younger, polyester used to give me a rash and I never found it comfortable, which has encouraged my own severe bias against it. I tend to be generally very averse to 'synthetic fibers'. I also hate ballpoint pens, automobiles and microwaves. (I use my microwave to store dishcloths and kitchen towels)

A curiosity is hat ribbons. Vintage rayon ribbon is held to be the best, because vintage rayon was derived from wood pulp, whereas contemporary rayon is made some other way that produces a stiffer fiber that conforms to the shape of a hat's crown less well. It's typically favored even over silk, although silk ribbons are not unknown; I have a dress homburg from Leon Drexler with a silk ribbon.
 

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