Eurovet (EN)

Discover the environmental impact of FIBER FROM ANIMAL ORIGIN

31 July 2018

@ INTERFILIERE SHANGHAI – September 26 & 27, 2018 

There are two large families of textile fibers: natural textile fibers and chemical textile fibers.

Let’s explore the Technical properties of natural textile fibers from ANIMAL origin (Wool, Cashmere, Mohair, Silk…) and discover the environmental impact at the Innovation Forum from Interfiliere Shanghai.


Wool is sheep hair. This hair is an insoluble protein molecule called “keratin”. The average fibre diameter and length are important factors in determining its quality. The most commonly used wool in clothing comes from the Merino sheep, a breed of sheep that is originally from Spain and is now mainly raised in Australia and New Zealand. It is particularly fine and is therefore highly appreciated by sports brands, lingerie and homewear.

Other types of wool, known as “precious” because of their rarity and their delicate feel, such as cashmere (from the pashmina goat) or mohair (from the angora goat), are used in homewear collections and lingerie. They have similar technical properties and environmental impacts as wool, although more careful attention must be paid to the question of the animals well-being. The same applies to angora (hair of the angora rabbit).


  • Good for insulation (thermal protection).
  • Very good capacity for moisture absorption.
  • Good crease recovery (hardly creases).
  • Softness, elasticity and suppleness.
  • Resistant and long-lasting fiber.
  • Takes up dyes easily, and also natural ones.
  • Requires less washing than other fibers.


  • Relatively high price.
  • Poor mechanical resistance.
  • Difficult care: tendency to felt and pill when rubbed.
  • Fiber is sensitive to mites.
  • Fiber is not suitable for swimwear

Silk fibres are derived from the secretion of the caterpillar of the Bombyx Mori moth (Gypsy moth). Once the cocoons are finished, they are plunged into hot water, which scalds the insects; this dissolves the sericin, which is natural protein “glue”. So a continuous and very fine filament (diameter of 5 to 10 microns) is retrieved, about 1 kilometre long, called “raw silk”. Then, it is twisted again to make thicker threads for the clothing industry. In this case, the fibre remains intact, and this allows longer and therefore better quality threads to be created.

It is also possible to wait until the moth comes out of the cocoon and gnaws part of it away. The fibres are then not so long and of lower quality. This is the process used for Tussah silk or “wild silk”.

It is worth noting that 90% of world silk production comes from the breeding of Bombyx mori.


  • Long, smooth and shiny fiber.
  • Good insulating properties.
  • Resistant fiber and very good restoration capability.
  • Soft, fluid feel.
  • Good capacity for moisture absorption.
  • Good results with natural dyes.


  • Relatively high price.
  • Fiber sensitive to rubbing, bleach and light (discoloring).
  • Delicate care needed.



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