When you get dressed in the morning, it’s not likely that the first thing on your mind will be the carbon footprint of your tunic. That’s why at SHUKR, we think about it for you. When we choose our fabrics, we avoid man-made and choose natural whenever possible. Introduced after the industrial revolution, man-made fibers were considered a break-through due to the ease with which fabric was manufactured and dyed. The biggest problem is that they are not biodegradable. If a cotton, linen, or silk shirt is left outside, it will eventually decompose. Man-made fibers, on the other hand, are petroleum-based, so that polyester shirt that looks cute in the store window will remain in the environment for hundreds of years, leeching chemicals into the soil. Also, petroleum-based fibers are manufactured from the extraction of crude oil. Not only is this damaging to the environment, it’s not difficult to see the connection between dependence on oil products and global resource conflicts. Natural fibers such as linen have been used since antiquity. The most common natural fibers used to make clothing are: cotton, linen, ramie, bamboo, silk, and wool. A third category of fibers, “natural man-made fibers,” has recently appeared, the most famous of which is lyocell (Tencel). Lyocell is made from the cellulose in wood pulp, a renewable resource. The solvent used to dissolve the wood pulp is reclaimed and recycled, rather than wasted, making for very little air or water pollution. Natural fibers also offer a healthier alternative to petroleum-based fabrics: breathability, temperature regulation, durability, water absorption, antimicrobial properties, and more.   At SHUKR, we regularly stock clothing in the following natural fabrics: Cotton: The fabric is strong, long-wearing, and absorbent. Available in a wide variety of weights and textures, it does need some care in order to look its best:
  • Machine-wash and tumble-dry cotton fabrics, always following the manufacturer's care instructions.
  • After you take it out of the dryer, iron cotton with a hot steam iron and hang it up right away to minimize wrinkling.
    Linen: Linen is made from flax, a plant that requires minimal chemicals for pest-control. Highly absorbent and cool to wear in hot climates, it’s a hygienic fabric. Since the chic linen look is a relaxed kind of wrinkled, don’t worry so much about ironing and enjoy the charm of the fabric.
  • Machine-wash and tumble-dry linen. Press with a hot iron while the fabric is still slightly damp for the best results.
    Ramie: Another natural plant fiber that can be traced back to antiquity, it’s quite strong and naturally resistant to mold and mildew. Eight times stronger than cotton (and therefore longer-lasting), Ramie plants are very productive, giving yields up to 6 times a year for sometimes up to 20 years.     Bamboo: This plant also receives lots of ‘green’ accolades because it’s easy to grow without pesticides, is quick to replenish itself with very little water, and has a complex root system that fights erosion. Another naturally antibacterial and odor-repellent fabric, we stock hijabs in this comfortable and breathable fabric several times a year. Softer than cotton and with a nice sheen, it will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter because of its temperature-regulating properties.     Silk: Is a natural protein fiber (as opposed to plant fiber) as it comes from worms! Another ancient fabric, it’s famous for its natural shine, and has a high absorbency making it very comfortable to wear in warm weather, and it traps warm air against the skin to keep you warm in cold weather. Wool: Highly resilient and wrinkle-resistant, we love to stock scarves, coats, cardigans, and other items in this winter warm fabric. Water-repellent, flame resistant, odor repellent, and anti-static, it’s used by both firefighters and for cloth diapers. Lyocell: The generic name for the Tencel® brand, we love this fabric and often blend it with cotton for our soft, light-weight tops that are naturally wrinkle-resistant. It’s made from wood pulp, making it both biodegradable and recyclable. Producing this fabric is greener than most, as it involves fewer emissions, less energy, and uses less water than other fabrics. Modal® is made from the reconstituted cellulose of beech trees. It is soft , smooth, cool to the touch, absorbent, resists shrinkage, and is less likely to pill from friction. Due to these qualities, we stock undershirts and hijabs in this fabric several times a year. Often we have customers who feel that our natural fabrics don’t offer as much stretch or ease of movement as man-made fabrics; or, they don’t want to worry about taking a few extra steps to care for their clothing. That’s why we offer a clothing care and fabric guide to make it easier for you to choose natural—you’re worth it.