The 3 Worst Fabrics in History

Fabric is very versatile. Its invention gave us a variety of purposes, from keeping warm to display advertising. Along the way, however, history has given us examples of some terribly bad fabrics from an ecological, sustainability, and labor point of view.

Rayon fibers

3. Acrylic

Invented in the USA in 1941 Acrylic fiber is used as a substitute for wool and as liners for boots. Acrylic no longer is made in the USA, however, and must be shipped from overseas. It is chemical-intensive to make and does not use any USA labor.

2. Acetate

Another early newcomer to the synthetic fiber family is Acetate, introduced in 1904. Acetate is hand-wash or dry-clean only, melts in the dryer, and has poor resistance to abrasion. While it is used in many commercial products, such as frames for sunglasses and photography-related processes, its use as a fabric is substandard since the fibers are weaker than normal and get weaker when wet.

Rayon chemical symbol
1. Rayon

It is the first synthetic fiber, so Rayon deserves notable mention as a product of human ingenuity. However, there are no more American manufacturers of Rayon, it was susceptible to eco-fraud (bamboo similarities), and many harsh chemicals go into making it. It tops our list.

Each of those fabrics have their merits. If only these fabrics could be made more eco-friendly and manufactured in the USA… Having said that, Acetate (below) looks like a lot of fun!

Fun with Acetate