Tencel is an increasingly popular eco fiber that conscious fashion brands — and even big brands looking to clean up their supply chains — are using to create everything from Tencel underwear and bras to Tencel clothing and scarves. (And, there are many eco-home brands now making Tencel bedsheets!)
So, you may have seen Tencel listed in the fabrics of your favorite sustainable fashion brand, but are wondering what exactly Tencel is and what it’s made from — and what about the fiber makes it an eco choice.
What is Tencel?
Tencel refers to the TENCEL™ brand of Lyocell and Modal fibers created by the Lenzing Group. Lenzing is an Austrian company with innovative sustainable fibers sourced from wood that also creates Lenzing EcoVero™ and Veocel™.
What is Tencel made from?
Tencel is a cellulose fiber made from the pulp of sustainably-sourced wood from FSC-certified forests.
Is Tencel sustainable?
No fiber is perfect, but Tencel is generally regarded as an environmentally friendly option. The fiber has a lighter impact than many other fabrics, especially when compared to other cellulosic fabrics, like viscose, which can be made from pulp that is unsustainably sourced from ancient or endangered forests.
In addition to being produced from responsibly sourced renewable raw materials, Tencel is produced in a closed-loop process that recycles the water used and recovers more than 99% of the solvents used. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, Lenzing breaks down their production process in more detail.
The cons: Besides the use of chemicals, one environmental-related pitfall of Tencel is that, just like other cellulose fibers, it requires a lot of energy to produce. The Lenzing Group has adopted a “biorefinery concept” where their pulp plants use bioenergy derived from the wood after the pulp has been extracted for the fibers. One of their plants even uses 100% bioenergy for running their operations.
However, at other pulp production facilities that aren’t integrated with Lenzing, fossil fuels are the primary energy source.
That said, Lenzing is on a path towards net-zero emissions by 2050 and has committed to the Science-Based Targets initiative with a plan to improve efficiency and renewable energy use to reduce emissions and then to offset any unavoidable emissions.
In short: TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers are preferred choices — and certainly should be prioritized when considering cellulose fabrics. However, Tencel is not without its environmental impacts and so we should continue to choose quality clothing (and other products) to ensure that they’re built to last.
Alright, so now that you have an understanding of what Tencel is, let’s talk about the best conscious fashion brands to find high-quality Tencel clothing!
Note that this guide includes partners and affiliates. As always brands featured on Conscious Life & Style meet high standards for sustainability and are brands I truly love! Cover photo is from Marine Layer.
TAMGA Designs sources only the highest quality plant-based fibers for their ethically-made, boldly pieces, such as TENCEL™ and Lenzing Modal™. And, all of the vibrant colors they use are achieved by using low-impact OEKO-Tex 100-certified dyes. The sustainable fashion brand even ships their eco-friendly pieces in biodegradable cassava starch bags and post-consumer paper hang tags!
Price Range: $30 – $136 USD / $39 – $179 CAD
Size Range: XS – XXL
2. Amour Vert
With romantic prints, feminine silhouettes, and relaxed fits, Amour Vert is one dreamy eco-fashion brand! The label uses sustainably-sourced fibers, such as micro-modal, deadstock cotton, and of course, TENCEL™. Amour Vert also provides transparency into their production, sourcing 97% of their garments locally in California and providing the factory names with information and photos below each product.
Price Range: $38 – $258
Size Range: XS – XL
Plant-based fashion brand Valani uses only the highest quality natural and cellulose fibers, including Tencel. The label’s elegant Tencel pieces are simple and sophisticated, making them versatile pieces you can pair with jewelry to dress up for a dinner out, throw on with sandals for an elevated picnic look, or wear with a blazer to create a polished look for the office (or for Zoom meetings at home!).
Every order from Valani ships in recycled and natural shipping materials, like recycled tissue paper and hemp and jute twine!
Price Range: $98 – $228
Size Range: 0 – 12
4. Marine Layer
Effortlessly cool and uncompromisingly soft, Marine Layer creates the kind of clothing that you’ll never want to not be wearing. The California-based brand has simple basics, printed dresses, and just about everything else in between, too. Marine Layer’s custom fabrics are made from eco-friendly materials like upcycled cotton and TENCEL™.
Price Range: $45 – $165
Size Range: XS – XL
Classically designed and thoughtfully tailored, Tradlands creates clothing that’s simple and versatile, meant to effortlessly take you through the seasons for many years. Each staple from Tradlands is made responsibly with incredibly high standards for quality, from the materials used to the inclusively-designed fits.
Price Range: $147 – $237
Size Range: XXS – 3XL
Sustainable outdoors brand Patagonia has been at the forefront of eco-friendly fashion long before it was cool. As one of the early adopters of organic cotton, Patagonia has continued to innovate with collections made from fabrics like hemp, recycled nylon, regenerative cotton, and TENCEL™..
Price Range: $45 – $139
Size Range: XXS – XL
Eileen Fisher is a sustainable designer label with well-made, minimalist garments perfect for a conscious capsule wardrobe. One of the many earth-minded fibers EF sources for their collections is TENCEL™.
Price Range: $68 – $338
Size Range: XXS – 3XL (Also has Petite sizes PP – PL!)
After trying out — and falling in love with — a couple of the brand’s bras, Organic Basics is the brand I always recommend for people looking for super comfy sustainable undergarments. [Check out this guide for more underwear brands.]
And you’re in luck, because not only does Organic Basics have TENCEL™ undergarments, but they’re also using the fabric to create ultra-soft pajamas and loungewear, too.
Price Range: $45 – $70
Size Range: XS – XL
9. People Tree
UK-based People Tree was one of the pioneers of ethical fashion — the brand launched three decades ago with their fair trade fashion and they were actually the first clothing company to receive World Fair Trade Organization’s Fair Trade product mark.
People Tree primarily uses GOTS and Fairtrade-certified organic cotton, but has also been expanding their range of eco fabrics to include TENCEL™ as well.
Price Range: $77 – $195 / £49 – £125
Size Range: 8 – 16 (UK Sizes)
Toad&Co is a socially and environmentally responsible label with eco-friendly clothing for hiking, lounging in, or for a dressy dinner. The brand uses many conscious fibers, like organic cotton, hemp, and TENCEL™ and is one of the founding members of The Renewal Workshop, which works to create a more circular fashion industry by recovering and renewing worn garments.
Another cool initiative Toad&Co has implemented is reusable mailers! You can request to have your purchases delivered in a reusable mailer that you can return back to Toad&Co after you’ve received your items.
Price Range: $30 – $125
Size Range: XS – XL
More Tencel Clothing Brands
11. Armed Angels – eco and fair fashion brands based in Germany (XS – XL)
12. CHAN + KRYS – BIPOC-owned brand with eco-friendly clothing (S – XL)
13. LA Relaxed – clothing made in small batches in LA from earth-friendly materials (XS – XL)
14. Left Edit on Made Trade – LA-based brand using eco-friendly fabrics and elements such as natural tagua nuts for buttons and recycled polyester for the linings
15. Madewell – large brand making progress on environmental and social responsibility measures (XXS – 3XL)
16. Mara Hoffman – forward-thinking sustainable designer label (XXS – 3XL)
17. MATE The Label – sustainably-made pajamas and loungewear (XS – XL)
18. PHYNE – casual and streetwear brand from Germany using quality eco fabrics (XS – XL)
19. Poplinen on Made Trade – earth-minded loungewear with inclusive sizing (XS – 3XL)
20. prAna – activewear and loungewear made with conscious fabrics (XS – 3XL)
21. Siizu – luxury sustainable fashion brand (XS – L)
22. Tentree – women’s, men’s and kid’s basics made with organic and recycled fibers (XS – XL)
23. Triarchy – eco-friendly denim; some jeans are made with a cotton/Tencel blend (23 – 31)
24. VYAYAMA – activewear made with natural plant-based fibers (XS – XL)
25. Whimsy + Row – effortless and earth-minded label with on-trend clothing (XS – XL)
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