Is Silk always better than Polyester? – Part 3
Note: When I sat down to write this opinion post, it became so long that I decided to break it up into 3 parts. This is the final part (Part 3). I’d recommend you start with the Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Now that we have discussed the pros & cons of Silk in Part 1, and cons of Polyester in Part 2, it is only fair that we give Polyester the light of day it deserves. So here goes.
- Polyester is light, strong and long lasting. It is less prone to wear and tear.
- Polyester is more sun resistant when compared to silk and cotton and holds its color well.
- Polyester is far more wrinkle-resistant when compared to Cotton and Silk.
- Polyester is machine washable and easy to maintain.
Touching a little bit on #3 – I am not sure about you, but I really cannot wear a 100% cotton dress or shirt to work. I look like I just rolled out of bed in my pajamas by the afternoon! The dress / shirt gets so wrinkled right around my tummy (from sitting at my desk), sleeves and arm pits within a few hours of wear. I know some very creative young women who can pretty much wear whatever they want to, to work and cotton is their choice of fabric*. I wish I could do that too! But I work at a run-of-the-mill corporate office and I like to sport a wrinkle-free look for the 8 to 9 hours that I am in the office.
Also, with Cotton I cannot find the time to iron my clothes every week or spare money for professional ironing and cleaning services. Maybe I should find time, but it feels like too much effort.
In my experience, there are many Poly-Cotton blends that are as breathable as cotton and super easy to maintain. Also, there are enough well made 100% polyester dresses that can be worn to work without feeling like a 16 year old who shops at Forever21. Ultimately a wrinkle free garment, that is easy to maintain and take care of is my go-to choice. If that garment happens to have polyester in it, that would not in itself turn me off.
Obviously there are many parameters that decide the quality of a garment – the manufacturing process, the attention paid to durability and quality, the raw material type and source. The point of this article is to suggest that we could try keep our minds (and options) open when it comes to Polyester. Let’s not write it off before we examine the actual garment in hand. Good Polyester can be breathable, beautiful, low maintenance, durable and you may be pleasantly surprised. High quality Polyester is better than low quality, low thread-count Silk.
P.S. * There are also quite a few people who cannot even consider wearing synthetic fabrics. For instance, people with skin conditions like eczema cannot bear to wear anything other than cotton. There are many special cases and preferences like this.
Not only did this whole opinion post about Silk vs Polyester become so long that I had to break it up into 3 parts, but I had yet another internal monologue about ethical fashion! Let me apologize for boring you all to death, but as much as I try I cannot shut up about this!! So, here is the addendum about ethical fashion:
I wanted to touch a little bit about ethical shopping choices. People who are very vocal about their choice of sticking to say, organic cotton over regular cotton, vegan leather, minimalism seem to forget all those rules when it comes to choosing Silk over Polyester. I hope they do realized that most silk cocoons are thrown into scalding hot water to kill the silkworms!! **
To believe that our clothes were manufactured as per ethical manufacturing norms just because the tag reads ‘100% silk’ and the garment is from a well-know, high end brand is pretty much fooling ourselves. A dress with a ‘Made in Italy’ could have been made in India or Bangladesh or Srilanka and the zipper or buttons added in Italy! The manufacturer is still allowed to put a ‘Made in Italy’ tag in such cases. On the flip side, just because something was made in one of the developing countries doesn’t automatically mean that it was manufactured under shady conditions. There are many independent designers who are hands-on and go to great lengths to make sure that their products are manufactured as per ethical standards.
Furthermore, Ethical Fashion cannot be skin deep. It cannot be about the ‘Made in ….’ tag or about giving back 10% of profits. It should be about everything involved in the making of the final product – the labor conditions, various processes and waste management involved at each and every step – from raw material processing to fabric production to the actual garment making. Fashion is among the top 5 most polluting industries in the world! But this kind of investigation or research is not humanly possible for any common buyer. It becomes a rabbit hole with no end in sight very easily.
Also, fast fashion giants like H&M and Zara are wetting their toes in ethical fashion and opening a dialogue about conscious consumption. No one knows if they are going to be successful yet. But the point is that there is no David vs Goliath in the future of fashion. There are enough Goliaths who want to learn from Davids. There are enough Davids who seem to bite off more than they can chew and start going to the dark side.
Assessing the tangible and intangible value and impact of our fashion purchases both on ourselves as individual buyers and on our society & economy is a gray area. Ultimately we as consumers cannot control every parameter and monitor every process. Our biggest and simplest weapons are:
Buy less, Use more.
Delay gratification, Think it over.
Get creative with what you own.
Mend it and make it work a little longer.
I’m sure there are many more simple rules in each one of your arsenals. For example, I know enough people who will shop consignment, organize a clothes swap, rent a dress that they will only wear once. For me, this is going to be the year where I try all of these things and stay conscious of what I consume.
A few years ago, I knew nothing about the impact of over consumption and the problem of excess that seeps into everything we do today. My passion for fashion and style has really opened new doors of education for me. I’m really thankful for having access to more information about the fashion industry on the internet now. I am thankful that I can hear the voices of other fashion consumers like me, through the blogging community. I am thankful that there are enough sane, but passionate men and women in this industry. They truly help me keep the eye on the prize and stay focused on the route of conscious consumption.
P.S. **I am aware of ‘peace silk’ extraction. But not even 10% silk in the world is extracted in this way.