most common natural and synthetic fabrics

Most Common Natural And Synthetic Fabrics


A peep into my overly stuffed wardrobe has resulted in many things. All of which were unproductive, un-inspiring, borderline depressing.

Capsule wardrobe. Failed so badly. I could not even pick out items to form the capsule, I wanted everything to be on the list!

Spring cleaning and donating. I swear my wardrobe reproduces on its own!

Waiting 30 days to buy an item, patience is a virtue I do not have.

The decision to be more environmentally and conscious however, has allowed me to look at my wardrobe in a new light. To be exact, the fabrics in my wardrobe. Which made me wonder, what are the common types of natural and synthetic fabrics today?

5 Examples of Natural Fibres


How is silk quality measured soft silk
midweight silk

Silk, a natural fibre, very similar to bird nest. Confused much? Bird nest is bird spit, specifically the solidified saliva of swiftlets for their nest. Silk is well, worm spit. Silkworm spit to be exact.

Silk has the amazing ability to reflect and refract light, giving the silk cloth the exclusive natural shimmer. From ancient China & India, to haute couture today, the association of silk with royalty, luxury, opulence and lavishness has not changed. In fact, silk’s popularity as an investment piece has increased due to its longevity and timeless look through the years.


what is fabric and its types wool

Wool comes from the hair of a variety of animals, ranging from sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas to name a few. Similar to humans, the texture of wool differs from species to species.

In fact, different breeds of the same kind of animal have different wool quality, resulting in different wool fabrics.

Look at sheep, Merino wool so soft, so cloud like. The Old Norwegian Spelsau? Great resilient wool but a far cry from the Merino clouds

Its common knowledge that wool retains heat well, is good for keeping warm, and durable. Did you know though – Fun fact! It’s also water-resistant, thanks to the water repelling lanolin oils from the woolly animals.


what is fabric and its types cotton

Cotton is, well, made from plant fibres of the cotton plant. Cotton easily makes up 40 percent of clothing manufactured worldwide. It is the undisputed champion of the garment and textiles industry, for its popularity.

What’s attractive about cotton?

What’s there not to love? Depending on how its fibres are spun, cotton is a true magician. It can be soft and durable, perfect for T-shirts and inner wear. It can also be hardy with minimal stretch, perfect for denim jeans. The best part? Laundry is a breeze! Handwashing is rarely necessary.


what is fabric and its types Linen

Personally, I think, linen is a strong contender for cotton’s popularity vote. Thank you flax fibres for giving rise to the linen fabric. Linen is an even more durable material than cotton, its generally stiffer yet still very breathable. Personally, I love how linen behaves, with each wear and wash, it really moulds to the wearer’s body and habits, softening with each wear

Maybe I’m biased, but so much character, what’s there not to love about Linen!

Plus! Linen is unique, it is stronger when wet. Perfect for sails and ropes on board ships and boats.


what is fabric and its types Jute
Jute twine

Jute is a coarse natural vegetable fibre, mostly grown in tropical countries. It is also the second most common fibre grown and used, worldwide, right after cotton.

But the best thing about jute is that it uses way less water to produce compared to cotton. The production process is also much more environmentally friendly compared to most fabrics.

The Jute fabric is extremely strong and hardy. A popular textile of choice to make rugs, burlap sacks, shopping bags and outdoor landscape items such as jute containers. It is also used in damage control for soil erosion.

Yup, you heard me right.

Jute sacks or jut mats can be placed on areas of soil erosion or landslips, with concrete poured on it. It helps provide more grip for the concrete pour and reduce the effects and damage of soil erosion.

How many types of natural fabrics are there 

The 5 types of natural fabrics shared so far are the most commonly seen. There is still a long list of types of natural fibres, both animal and plant based. With technological advances, the list might be growing as I type this out.

If you’re curious, here’s a non-exhaustive list. Just to amaze you, as it did me.

If it doesn’t interest you, that’s fine, skip right ahead to synthetic fibres and fabrics!

List of Natural Fibres


Abaca, Bagasse, Bamboo, Coir, Cotton, Flax, Hemp, Jute, Kapok, Kenaf, Pine, Raffia, Ramie, Sisal


Alpaca, Angora, Byssus, Camel, Cashmere, Chiengora, Guanaco, Llama, Mohair, Pashmina, Qiviut, Rabbit, Silk, Spider silk, Wool, Yak

5 Examples of Synthetic Fibres 


Polyester is a synthetic fibre created from coal and petroleum. To be exact, its practically a plastic that’s made out of coal and petroleum. It shares many characteristics of plastic; durable, water repellent, not breathable and resistant to stretching.

It might not sound like something you want to wear, but polyester is widely used in clothing today. Especially in fast fashion. In a nice cool environment, like the shopping mall, polyester’s lack of breathability is not as obvious. It might even feel cool to the touch initially. Add in how low maintenance it is and how it retains its shape so well. It is easy to see why polyester is such a popular material with major garment retailers.

Of course, come summer and you’re outdoors and its humid. Well, I can’t say that the amount of love for polyester would remain the same level.


Rayon, I could not decide where to put Rayon. It isn’t quite fully synthetic or natural. It is a semi-synthetic fibre made from reconstituted wood pulp. Technically a plant fibre. However, chemicals, like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide are used in the production process to form the Rayon fabric. Which makes Rayon a semi synthetic fibre.

Sort of like Hercules, not quite human not quite god.

Okay not sure why the sudden Greek mythology, but you get what I mean.

Besides its ability to imitate silk, wool, and other fabrics, it’s also able to give rise to other materials. These includes modal, viscose, and lyocell.


what is fabric and its types spandex
Spandex Exapands

That stretchy, stretchy fabric that expands. Spandex. Expands. See the anagram?

True to its anagram, Spandex is highly expandable, extremely elastic.

Spandex is also known as Lycra or elastane. All these fabrics are very similar, all commonly used in shape wear, swim wear and athleisure. In its more lightweight forms, like gymnastics wear, it does not restrict movement. In thicker forms, like shapewear, it gives you a smooth silhouette.

It nips and tucks and does not breathe. I know you’re thinking, yeah, I definitely will not be able to breathe in something skin tight. Comfort aside, Spandex literally doesn’t allow you or your skin to breathe well regardless of how thin or thick it is.

Acrylic fibres

Acrylic fibres are very much plastic like. Sounds like polyester?

Acrylic’s production process is similar to the polyester fabric as well.

Unlike its silky and soft cousin, polyester, which often imitate silk. Acrylic is more like imitation wool.

It feels and looks like wool, retains heat in a similar way too.

Acrylic is often considered an imitation wool as a result of its heat retention qualities. It’s often used to create fake fur and fleece.

what is fabric and its types acrylic
Can you tell if this is made of wool or acrylic?


Think of microfibres as a blend of synthetic fabrics. Usually a blend of polyester and nylon.

Like its name, Microfiber, each fibre is very fine. Its diameter is 1/100th of a human hair and one-third of a cotton fibre.

Its micro-ness? If that’s a word, enables it to pick up dust and dirt particles effectively. Its lint free too! On top of that, there’s it’s highly absorbent nature – holding up to seven times its weight in water. All these makes it’s the ideal fabric for cleaning.

Next time you’re at the cleaning section of a supermarket/ convenience shop, take a peep. Microfibre everywhere!

I’m quite enthusiastic about cleaning, so even if microfibre is generally more expensive than cotton fabrics, I personally think it’s a worthwhile investment.

How many types of Synthetic Fabrics are there 

Like natural fabrics, the list seems to grow. So here’s a non exhaustive list:

Acrylic, Artic Fleece®, Avora®, Coolmax®, Cordura®

Dacron®, Darlexx®, DrySport®, Dyneema , Gore-Tex®

Kevlar, Lurex®, Lycra® , Micro fiber, Nano Care, Neoprene, Nomex®, Nylon

Olefin, Polartec, Polyester, Polyester fleece

Rhinotek®, Schoeller®, Solarmax®, Spandex, Supplex®, Synthetic fur, leather and Suede

Tactel®, Toughtek®, Vinylon, Zylon

What is most common in my waredrobe? 

A strange way to end off perhaps, but since my wardrobe was where it begun. It’s where it shall end.

Embarrassed to say, polyester is what makes up the bulk of my wardrobe.

Even more embarrassing to say, the polyester pieces are what I rarely reach for.

Silk, Cotton, Linen and wool were what I wear most often, excluding active wear.

Perhaps a clear sign, its time to re-evaluate my habits as a consumer. It is clear that my subconscious mind prefers natural fabrics.

My conscious mind needs to catch up!