Natural and Sustainable Materials
K&US continue to approach sustainability in everything we do. We only ever use natural fibres because they are sustainable, durable and a pleasure to wear.
Since 1993, we have solely chosen fabrics that are natural in origin. Initially linen, but gradually we have expanded our range to also include silk, hemp, viscose, organic cotton and several different types of wool. We believe that nature knows best and the natural fibres we select in our clothing are breathable and long-lasting - and they will become softer and more settled in time. They are a sustainable resource, as they are renewable and biodegradable - and contrary to synthetic fibres - they can be used without depleting or damaging the environment.
Natural and Man-made Fibres
Fibres used in clothing can generally be split into two types ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’. Natural fibres are collected from the seed cases, leaves or stem (bast) of a plant – or from animal fibres that consist of the hair, fur (wool) or natural secretion (silk worm) of an animal.
Man-made fibres consist of either regenerated cellulosic fibres or synthetic fibres. Regenerated cellulosic fibres are derived from natural plant fibres (cellulosic fibres e.g., bamboo or viscose wood pulp), whereas synthetic fibres are entirely man-made from chemicals derived from fossil fuels. This includes polyester, - a synthetic fibre, which is one of the most used man-made fibres in today’s fashion industry. Knowing what your clothes are made of, will help you make informed choices and buy thoughtfully crafted pieces from fibres that are kind to people and the planet.
The process of making linen fabric starts with the stalks. These stalks are then broken up to separate the inner fibres. Once separated, the inner threads are combed to create thin strands used in spinning and weaving. Linen has a wonderful lustre and is not always uniform in texture and colour. Natural 100% linen can have occasional ‘slubs’ in the weave which are not faults but characteristic of the fibre. Linen has a crinkly appearance and gets softer with use: The longer you have your linen clothing, the more beautiful the fabric becomes.
This natural fabric offers several great properties that make it so perfect for bed linen and clothing. It is absorbent and provides an extremely positive microclimate for the skin. It is famously the ‘fabric for summer’ because it pulls moisture away from you when it is humid, but it also keeps you pleasantly warm in cooler months. The perfect all-rounder.
Linen is one of our most sustainable and stylish fabrics. It is strong, durable, and made from flax plant fibres. Apart from being fully biodegradable, linen is mostly grown without any chemicals and is resilient and can grow in poor soil, using far less water in its consumption than cotton. Essentially, flax likes a temperate climate. Occasionally sunny but mostly rainy and breezy. Our linen is sourced from Eastern Europe and the garments are produced in Lithuania by a small, family-owned business.
Linen yarn is a wonderful fibre and is considered ideal for creating knitwear. Simultaneously, it has the same qualities and advantages as our woven linen fabrics. Our chunkier knit linen styles are produced exclusively in China, whereas the fine knit linen line is sourced from Portugal.
Hemp grows quickly and is therefore considered to be a highly sustainable material. The plant naturally reduces pests, meaning no pesticides are usually needed. It uses up to four times less water than cotton and needs a relatively small amount of land to cultivate and it can also be grown in soil that would otherwise be considered infertile. The long roots of hemp plants help to prevent soil erosion by binding the soil together.
Hemp has the same properties as linen and is well-known for its strong durability whilst offering a softness similar to that of cotton. It is often used for inner layers due to its breathability and useful moisture absorbing properties. It is also resistant to bacterial growth. Perhaps one of the most sustainable aspects of hemp is that it is fully biodegradable.
We source our hemp from China and all our hemp clothing range is manufactured in Lithuania by a small, family-owned business.
Cotton is a natural fibre that grows on the seed of the cotton plant and it is grown in hotter countries around the globe. Cotton is the most commonly used natural fibre. It is super soft, breathable and can be washed at high temperatures. On the downside side of this, and although cotton is better than synthetics, it does have a negative impact on the environment as it requires a lot of water to grow. It also uses high levels of pesticides and artificial fertilisers. However, organic cotton has a much less negative impact on the environment, as it is grown without the use of pesticides, fertilisers and chemicals.
We do not often use cotton in our design, but when we do – we solely use the finest organic cotton fabric, in order to ensure the highest quality. The country of origin is always specified to show transparency throughout the entire supply chain. The production takes place in Lithuania.
Silk is cultivated from the cocoon of the mulberry silkworm larvae and is one of the longest natural threads in existence. Silk fibres are smooth, straight and shiny with an altogether luxurious feel. It is a lightweight, breathable fabric which is good at maintaining your body temperature. It can help you feel cool in hot weather and warm in the cold. If you want a fabric that is both light and a good insulator, silk is a brilliant option.
Airing your silk garments should always be the preference over washing. In this way they preserve their beautiful appearance. Just ensure that you avoid direct sunlight.
Our silk originates from China, which is also the production country of our signature velvet scarves. Whilst our lightweight silk scarves are made in India, our silk clothes are manufactured in Lithuania.
Viscose fibres start out as a plant material and is made of processed wood cellulose from trees such as bamboo and spruce. Admired for its beautiful drape and soft finish, viscose is naturally absorbent and breathable with moisture-repelling properties.
We usually acquire EcoVero™ fibres holding accreditations from FSC - the world's most trusted mark for sustainable forestry which aims to reduce or eliminate the overall volume of chemical pesticides in use. During production up to 50% less water is used and far less CO2 emissions are created compared with standard viscose.
Viscose is naturally dirt and stain repellent, which means that it can be washed at low temperatures and with only a small amount of mild detergent.
Viscose is exceptionally durable and excellent at retaining its colour, lustre and drape even after many washes.
Our viscose is sourced from Italy and produced in Lithuania by a small family-owned business.
Wool fibre is a natural animal fibre which is derived from the hair grown on for example sheep, goats or yaks - all of them great for producing fibres for weaving or knitting yarn. Wool is a unique, versatile material that has temperature-resistant properties. Not only does it keep you warm in the winter, but it can help you wick sweat and keep you dry in the summer. Wool has a large capacity to absorb moisture vapour next to the skin, making it extremely breathable and odour resistant. It has self-cleaning and anti-bacterial properties and does not need to be washed as frequently as other materials. Simply airing your wool garment will help cleanse the fibres.
A possible drawback of using wool is that it can be prone to pilling which is caused by rubbing during wears. Light pilling can be removed by hand or by using a battery operated de-piller or fabric shaver device.
The yak fibres used in our collection are sourced directly from Tibetan herders, enabling them to earn a living while preserving their traditional herding and community lifestyle. We support sustainable herding practices and part of our sale’s revenue goes towards local health- and education programmes. Did you know that by weight, yak is 30% warmer than other types of wool?
Our super soft merino wool comes from Australia and is mulesing-free. All garments are knitted in China.
The Diversity of Nature
The characteristics of natural materials are influenced by climate and the surrounding environments. Nature has a logic of its own that should not be controlled or manipulated by humans. We appreciate this versatility and this is obviously one of the major reasons why natural fabrics are widely loved and desired.
Sustainability on Several Levels
However, even thoughtful and natural production processes demand the expansion of land use and the consumption of water, chemicals and transport. At K&US we aim to keep this to an absolute minimum. We value and respect all the people throughout our supply chain and we maintain close contact at all times. Our manufacturers are mainly family-owned businesses that operate sustainable, safe and comfortable working conditions. Closed loop systems ensure that chemicals are not released into the environment but are recovered, converted and returned to the production. We encourage the development of natural dye solutions that achieve beautiful colours whilst protecting the environment. Our goal is to continue to cut our carbon footprint by sending and receiving our packages and resources via ship – and by batching orders going out to the same geographical area.
At K&US we continually examine and find ways to make life at our head office as environmentally friendly as possible. A significant amount of our equipment and furniture are re-cycled – even our note pads consist of back pages of discarded print-outs!
Our brand collaborates with DHL which for the third year in a row, has been named Sweden’s most sustainable logistics company due to its efforts to reduce its CO2 emissions.
K&US create individual, quality clothing designed to be loved and cherished for years, because we believe in timeless wardrobes that get revisited time and again. We encourage our customers to purchase only what they need, to move away from excessive consumerism and to focus on quality and not quantity. Low production volumes, ethical manufacturing, and environmentally friendly materials are better for both you and the planet!
All your K&US garments are designed to endure. We hope you will wear and love your pieces season after season. Each garment needs looking after and with a little care and some extra love and respect for the environment, you can ensure your clothing continues to look and feel its very best. Washing instructions are printed on the care label inside each garment - but this is our general advice:
- If possible, always opt for airing your garments, you can easily do so by placing the garment where there is free flowing air. This is the preferred method for most natural fabrics, as they have self-cleaning properties.
- Following the care labelling can help keep clothes in the best shape possible. Washing at the recommended low temperature will save energy.
- For washing natural garments, you should use a bleach free, gentle/fine wash detergent which is safe for you and the environment.
- Do not use fabric conditioner when washing. When you coat your natural garments with conditioner, they simply lose their moisture wicking properties.
One of the best ways to ensure your clothes get a second shot at life is by donating them to second hand use. Another way would be to upcycle clothes so that they last longer—simply give your clothes a new life by repairing them. If clothing is really worn out then give it to textile recycling plants where they will be turned into new items. The possibilities are endless.
Natural fabrics lovingly crafted create something unique you will want to keep for years. At K&US we strive to continue being considerate to the limited resources we have. By wearing our collection, you indirectly influence the global production chain. You help us making a difference to the planet. Thank you for choosing to be a part of K&US!