Materials matter when it comes to long-lasting garments. We work with our global suppliers to sustainably source the best fibres for every Filippa K piece – in terms of aesthetic, comfort, and performance. Each choice ensures you can wear your clothing as long as possible, and give it a second life after ownership. Explore our guide to learn more about each material: where we source it, how it’s made, and why we love it.
Materials marked with the * icon are classed as a more sustainable fibre based on our Fibre Tool.
The camel fibres we use are sourced from Mongolia. Harvesting camel hair is done by hand, and the best quality comes from nomadic households in this region. The inner down hair is combed or shorn away during a two month long molting season every spring, and the humps are not shorn because these help the camels keep cool during hot summers.
When used as a textile, camel hair has natural temperature regulating properties: there is a hollow space in the centre of the fibre that acts as a vacuum, insulating cold or hot air depending on the temperature. It has moisture managing properties, and feels twice as warm as regular wool. Because of these properties, we primarily use camel fibres in our knitwear.
Cotton is a natural fibre that’s kind to the skin, comfortable to wear, and that has moisture-absorbing properties. It is durable, breathable, and easy to care for. We use it throughout our collections, most commonly in wardrobe basics like denim and t-shirts.
Cotton seeds are typically planted in the spring. Once harvested, the plant is taken to a cotton gin where the fibre is separated and packaged for shipment. We use three types of cotton in our garments, depending on availability and what is best for the design.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO crops. Less than 1% of the cotton grown in the world is organic – we use this fibre in our cotton pieces as often as we can, helping to set a better standard for the industry. It works particularly well in jersey pieces like t-shirts, and in woven shirting.
Pima cotton is cotton that has a very long fibre length. This makes it smoother, wrinkle- and pilling-resistant, and very luxurious. Due to its long fibre length, it is in very limited supply globally. Traditionally, other types of extra-long staple fibre cotton include Sea Island cotton and Egyptian cotton, but these terms can be used for marketing purposes and the actual cotton plant might not be as luxurious as implied. Its softness makes it perfect for jersey tees.
Recycled cotton enables waste to be reused. Cotton can be recycled from post-consumer garments or from pre-consumer industrial waste from yarn, fabric, or garment production. The cotton waste is sorted by colour and then shredded and blended mechanically into new fibres. The cotton fibres become shorter and weaker after recycling, so recycled cotton is often blended with a non-recycled fibre for strength. Because the recycled cotton is not dyed, the amount of energy, water, and dye used in the production is typically reduced compared to regular cotton. We like to use recycled cotton in more durable pieces like denim and outerwear.
Cupro (Bemberg) has been made by Asahi Kasei in Japan for 85 years. The raw material for cupro comes from cotton linter, which is what is left behind when the cotton lint is removed from the seed and made into cotton yarn. Asahi Kasei has a GRS certificate to account for the origin of the cupro fibres, as well as for their traceable production system to show that they use the fibre/processing waste to generate power.
The material is soft to the touch, with many functional properties. It controls moisture and stays breathable, making it temperature-regulating year round. This means it stays warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. It is also resistant to static electricity. The consistency of the fibre is able to absorb dye well, meaning the colour stays vibrant for longer. Cupro is used in the lining of some of our products such as suiting and outerwear. We also use it in woven pieces like dresses and shirting.
Down comes from the soft under feathers of duck or geese. These feathers are lightweight, fluffy, and have insulating properties – they create tiny air pockets that trap warm air, thus retaining the heat of the wearer. Down is incredibly resilient, and can withstand being compacted many times without losing its loft or ability to fluff.
The down we use is from Taiwan, and is certified from farm to supplier – it comes from animals that have been treated humanely and are a byproduct of the food industry. This down provides a 700 fill power, which is not possible with synthetic or recycled fibres (the use of recycled down also has a negative impact on the environment due to the additional processing and resources required). The fill power represents the quality of the down by measuring the loft that occurs when the clusters of down are fully expanded. A high quality down fill jacket should have a fill power rating of at least 550, offering a higher level of warmth and comfort. This allows our products, such as parkas, puffers, and other winter outerwear, to have a higher level of performance, and to live a longer life in your wardrobes.
Also known as spandex or Lycra, elastane is a synthetic technical fibre that gives stretch to fabric. The invention of elastane in the 1950s revolutionised the fashion industry by enabling garments to return to their original shape after stretching. It’s usually mixed with polyester or polyamide in sportswear, and with cotton or wool in trousers and suits to provide stretch. Today, most clothing containing elastane is not recyclable as commercial technology to separate elastane from other fibres does not exist. We use it for performance benefits in Soft Sport activewear, and in pieces like trousers, suits, and dresses where comfort stretch improves the garment.
Leather comes from the tanned raw hides of animals, most commonly cows, goats, or lamb. The tanning process is essential – it preserves and strengthens the hides as well as making them more supple and pliable for the garment. The two most common methods of tanning are vegetable tanning and chrome tanning. At Filippa K, all of our leather is tanned within the EU and is a byproduct of existing food production.
Vegetable tanning is organic and chemical-free, uses bark from mimosa trees for treatment, and is the original method of treating animal hides. Compared to chrome tanning it is better for the environment, creates a result that is biodegradable, and produces more natural-looking colours. However, it also requires greater craftsmanship, is more costly, and takes much longer.
Chrome tanning is the most common form of tanning, using chromium III. This method is faster and less expensive than vegetable tanning, and it creates a result that is softer, more flexible, and stronger. The result however is not biodegradable, nor does it age as gracefully as vegetable tanned leather.Chromium III is naturally occurring and is not considered to have a negative effect on humans or the environment. Under certain conditions chromium III can change to chromium VI, which is a dangerous form that occurs when heating resides. We have long-standing partners in the EU with certified factories that abide by strict REACH regulations to make sure they are controlling the chrome III and recovering it properly. This protects working conditions and the environment, and ensures that chromium VIdoes not occur.
Although the production of leather can be problematic, the fabric has many benefits and is long-lasting when cared for properly. We use it primarily in accessories such as bags and shoes thanks to its durable longevity, and occasionally design leather pant and skirt styles. We strive to use the more environmentally-friendly method of vegetable tanning wherever possible, and increase our use of it each season.
*Leather that has been vegetable tanned is classed as a more sustainable material. You can find this type of leather in our Alice Sneaker, the Soft Sport Hiker Boot, and more in our upcoming collections.
We’ve developed a new fully traceable supply chain to source leather from the meat production industry in Sweden. Starting as a way to source Swedish wool, we realised that we can also utilise this supply chain for leather garments as well. This material is organic, and vegetable tanned without chemicals at Kero Leathers in Swedish Lapland – using bark from the mimosa tree. The local supply chain ensures good animal welfare and a reduced carbon footprint.
Our upcoming Autumn Winter 2020 collection will be the first to include Swedish Leather styles.
Linen fibres come from the cellulose fibres in the stalk of the flax plant. It is planted with a seed and harvested within about 100 days, when the plant is blooming with green leaves and flowers. Flax requires very little water, pesticides, or maintenance, and can grow well in most types of soil regardless of quality. The linen that comes from flax is strong, naturally moth resistant, and has temperature regulating properties – meaning it stays cool in warm temperatures.
The loose structure of linen gives it a relaxed look and breathable feel. It holds colour well, giving it a lustrous shine. We use linen in a variety of garments for men and women, especially when designing for spring and summer. Its light weight makes it a perfect fabric to use for shirts, tees, and trousers.
Lyocell is a semi-synthetic fibre that is made of wood pulp, often from the eucalyptus tree. While the generic name for this fibre is lyocell, we use Tencel™ produced by Lenzing™ which is traceable to managed forests, processed in a safe way, and is comfortable to wear.
Tencel™ is made of regenerated material that comes from wood. It is processed without chemicals in a closed loop process that recycles 99.5% of solvents, while the remaining trace amounts are decomposed in biological purification plants. The eucalyptus trees are grown on farms where no old growth forests, genetic manipulation, or pesticides are used. These forests are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for social and environmental responsibility.
We love using lyocell in our products because it is sustainable and incredibly soft. It can be found in jersey tees and dresses, men’s shirting, and blended into suiting and other fabrics.
Refibra is a new fibre from Lenzing™, made from recycled cotton (from pre- and post-consumer sources) mixed with Tencel fibres. It is processed in a closed loop, using 95% less water than conventional cotton fibres—and is biodegradable. The Refibra we use is blended with organic cotton and woven in Turkey.
Modal is a type of rayon that is made from a mix of organic and synthetic materials. The base is cellulose from hardwood trees, such as birch and oak, and the raw tree material then goes through a manufacturing process to become a fibre. Its characteristics are similar to those of cotton, although modal is more resistant to pilling. It is often used as an alternative to, or blended with, silk or cotton – especially in sportswear and household textiles like sheets and towels. Modal will not shrink when it’s washed, it retains colour very well, and is more environmentally friendly than many other materials when processed responsibly.
Polyamide, also called nylon, comes from petrochemicals which means it is not a renewable resource. Similar to polyester, polyamide is a polymer: it is made up of many monomers bound together, but the way these bond together is different than in polyester. Polyamide is slightly more durable, and less prone to pilling, than polyester. It is also tear-proof and resistant to abrasions. The material is designed to absorb moisture but not to retain it, which makes it ideal for products like Soft Sport leggings and tops that you wear while working out. It also works well in outerwear for active occasions or weather resistance.
Recycled polyamide takes something previously treated as waste and gives it a new use. It decreases our need to extract more non-renewable resources for its production. Recycled polyamide can come from pre-consumer sources, like the fibre production of virgin polyamide, or post-consumer sources like fishing nets or carpets. We use this material in our swimwear thanks to its performance properties.
Polyester comes from petrochemicals which means that virgin polyester is not a renewable resource. It is a polymer, so it’s made up of many monomers bound together to make the fibre. It is a very durable fibre, which is tear-proof and abrasion resistant, though it can be prone to pilling. It is designed to absorb moisture but not retain it which makes it ideal for activewear garments used for workouts. Its properties also make it useful for long-lasting outerwear pieces.
Recycled polyester produces less CO2 emissions than virgin polyester, and it doesn’t require new petroleum to create. It takes something previously treated as waste and gives it a new use – from pre-consumer sources like the fibre production of virgin polyester, or post-consumer sources like PET bottles. We use this recycled material in chiffon garments like woven blouses and dresses, as well as in the lining for many of our suiting and outerwear pieces.
Silk is a biodegradable, natural filament fibre that’s a luxurious and more sustainable choice. It’s a renewable resource which is durable, anti-bacterial, and flame-retardant, and it requires minimal chemicals, water, and energy when processed. It’s made by spinning silk worm cocoons into silk fibres, which are then used to produce the fabric.
The quality can vary greatly – as a delicate material, it can be susceptible to abrasion, light, and perspiration. It is lightweight, soft to the touch, and moisture-absorbing which allows the wearer to feel cool in high temperatures and warm in low temperatures. When cared for properly, it can retain its qualities and last a long time. We use silk in woven pieces such as blouses, pants, and shorts.
Thermolite™ is the brand name for a thermally insulating fibre that is used in place of down – most commonly in winter coats and jackets like parkas and puffers. It is made of polyester fibres that are designed with a hollow core in order to replicate the insulating properties of down. We often use Thermolite™ on winter styles that can be designed with a mono-material: when a garment has only one material throughout, such as polyester, it can be fully recycled much more easily than other garments.
Triacetate is a semi-synthetic fibre that’s regenerated from wood pulp, then processed with chemicals. It is created in a closed loop process, exclusively by Mitsubishi in Japan, that recycles solvent as it is processed. It has a relaxed, flowing feeling that is long-lasting and keeps its properties for years of wear. It resists shrinking and wrinkling (so it doesn’t need much ironing), it’s machine washable, and it doesn’t pill or produce static.
We use triacetate most commonly in women’s products, and often blended with other fibres to create a unique fabric. It can be found in dresses, blouses, trousers, and jackets.
A regenerated fibre, viscose is made of wood pulp. Originally developed to replace silk, it has good moisture absorption and has a soft feeling. Although it is a lighter, more sensitive fabric, it is easy to wash and retains colour brilliance well over time.
When we buy certified viscose, we can trace the raw materials to managed forests, and we also have the assurance that the fibre is processed in a safer way. We use multiple types of viscose: Enka comes from Swedish trees, and Lenzing™ and Svilosa come from trees in Europe, the Americas, and South Africa.
Viscose is used throughout our collections in dresses, blouses, and mixed into fabric for suiting.
Wool is a common natural fibre that is obtained from sheep and other animals – cashmere and mohair come from goats, alpaca is from animals in the camel family, and angora comes from rabbits. It is renewable, recyclable, and – if not treated with chemicals – biodegradable. Wool is best known for its warming properties when it’s cold, but it is also temperature-regulating to stay cool when it’s warm. This is due to the structure of wool fibres which enables them to trap air and absorb moisture without becoming damp.
Each type of wool has unique properties, and we’ve worked with our long-term suppliers to responsibly source the best of each kind for our garments.
This type of wool comes from alpacas in the camel family, and the alpaca we use is sourced from Peru. The silky fibres are long (10-20 cm) and fine, giving it a softer and more durable quality than sheep’s wool. The processing requires less water and fewer chemicals than other wools. Alpaca fleece is a renewable resource, and the animals have padded hooves that leave a lighter footprint – making them easier on the earth.
The fabric is hypoallergenic, it resists shrinking, and it has a soft and lightweight feeling. It’s perfect to use for cosy knitwear.
Our cashmere is sourced primarily from herders in Inner Mongolia as opposed to cashmere farmers. These types of goats can be harder on the land than other animals, because they pull up plants from the roots. Because of this, we’re mindful of where we source it. The smaller scale family-run operations we work with are able to take care of the land and move the animals to prevent overgrazing. The herders are offered education in land management and animal welfare.
The cashmere that comes from these goats is six times finer than human hair, giving it the signature soft and luxurious feel. Similar to other types of wool, it is also temperature-regulating which means it stays warm when it’s cool, and cool when it’s warm. These properties make it ideal for knitwear, and we also use it in outerwear fabric.
This type of wool comes from merino sheep. Their skin can tend to be more wrinkled than other types of sheep, which means that some farmers practice mulesing. For our heavy knits in the permanent Core collection, we source our merino wool from South Africa where we can ensure it is always mulesing-free. Details about other products that include merino wool can be found on each product page.
The fibre is finer and softer than regular wool, yet it has the same temperature regulating qualities. It is high in quality and can be spun into fine wire threads, creating a breathable material. This makes it ideal for lighter knitwear pieces, and for suiting fabric.
Mohair comes from the angora goat which produces long fibres with a high lustre and shine. It has a soft and lightweight feel, and is considered a luxury fibre like cashmere and silk. It also provides a unique fluffy textured appearance that sets it apart from other types of wool. We source our mohair from farms in South Africa, and the material can be found in our sweaters and some outerwear fabric.
The use of mohair in the fashion industry can be problematic due to a lack of standards, and we have been proactive in our approach to ensure that the mohair we use is coming from sustainable sources. In 2019, we formed a group with John Lewis and Acne to visit the farms and discuss the possibility of developing the first Responsible Mohair Standard. Supply chains are complex, but we want to ensure we are supporting farmers who are managing their animals and land in a good way. We are working with global certification bodies to draft a standard that will ensure the mohair we buy is both traceable and sustainable—it is due to be ready for implementation later in 2020.
Mulesing is a procedure used on sheep that is considered by animal rights groups as cruel. When we declare our wool to be mulesing-free, we can confirm that the sheep have not endured this procedure. Our suppliers receive a certification letter that confirms the origin of their mulesing-free wool. This type of wool is used in our suiting fabric, outerwear fabric, and in all of our wool sweater styles.
We source recycled wool from both pre-consumer and post-consumer sources. For pre-consumer, mulesing-free wool fibres that are waste from the carding process are spun into new yarns in Italy for us to use. The post-consumer fibres come from wool garments that are recycled into new fabric in a traditional method from Prato in Italy. It’s a very hands-on process that requires a unique type of expertise to blend the colours of the wool.
Recycled wool uses less water and energy than the production of virgin wool. It can be found in our suiting fabric, outerwear, and sweaters.
In 2019, we worked with a local farm and a fellow Swedish brand to develop a new supply chain to source Swedish wool. Sweden’s sheep provide over 1000 tonnes of wool each year, most of which goes to waste. We visited the farm Norrby Gård to learn about how we can change this. As a result, we set up a supply chain to develop our first Swedish wool sweater with a naturally raw, organic material that ensures good animal welfare and a reduced carbon footprint. We’ve continued to develop this supply chain and will use Swedish wool in future collections as well, sharing this method with other brands in a sustainable, scalable way.
We source yak wool from Tibet, as yaks are native to the Himalayas. The yarn they produce is valued for its warmth, breathability, and durability – it is 30% warmer than sheep’s wool and softer than cashmere. The organic fibres resist pilling, they’re thermal regulating, they resist odour and water, they’re hypoallergenic, and moth-proof. These qualities make it an ideal material for long-lasting, luxurious knitwear that can be worn in cooler months.