Protein or Cellulose?

This short "in a nut shell" article aims to simplify some of the terms used and help you make informed choices when buying fibre.

Natural fibre

Natural fibre is made from either 1: animals or 2: plants. It is therefore bio-degradable.  

1: Animal fibre (protein)

These fibres come from animals and include wool, hair, silk and feathers. 

  • Sheep wool
  • Alpaca
  • Silk mulberry & tussah (from silk worms)
  • Milk protein - from waste milk
  • Mohair - goat hair
  • Angora - rabbit hair
  • also yak, camel etc

    2: Plant fibre (cellulose)

    These fibres come from different parts of plants such as seeds, stalk, leaves and fruit. Many of these may be considered as vegan alternatives.

    • Flax - also know as linen
    • Bamboo
    • Hemp
    • Ramie - from nettles
    • Soybean
    • Banana
    • Cotton
    • Rose
    • Seacell - from seaweed

    Man-made fibre

    Man-made fibres are known as synthetic and are produced through chemical processes. Many of these may be considered as vegan alternatives. They will generally take a very long time to degrade. 

    • Nylon 
    • Polyester
    • Tencel - derived from wood pulp
    • Faux (imitation fibre)
    • plus other brand names

    Blended fibres

    Many of the above fibres are purposely mixed to create exciting and desirable new blends that enhance preferred characteristics in the final garment such as durability, stretch, price, drape, softness, sheen, colour etc.

    Further reading

    Eco World - Supporting eco-friendly and sustainable living

    Spin Off Magazine - Spinning new fibres

    The Campaign for Wool - Why wool matters


    *External links are suggested for your information only. We accept no responsibility for their content or from any loss as a result of your use of them.