Glossary – Fashion & Sustainability


bast fibres Long fibres collected from the stem of certain plants to use in textile manufacture, e.g. flax, hemp and jute.

biodegradable synthetic fibres Plant-based synthetic textile materials that meet minimum standards for decomposition.

biofuel Also known as agrofuel, these fuels are mainly derived from biomass, plant crops or bio waste and may cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

biomass A renewable energy source, derived from biological material such as wood, waste, hydrogen gas and alcohol fuels.

CAD/CAM Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacture.

cellulose fibre Fibre made from plant carbohydrate cellulose, whether naturally occurring (such as cotton, linen, nettle, sisal, etc.) or manufactured (e.g. lyocell, modal, viscose).

CMT Cut, make and trim: refers to a contractor who is supplied with fabric and other necessary materials by a manufacturer in order to cut, make and trim them into finished garments.

CSR Corporate Social Responsibility.

degradable fibres Fibres based on synthetic polymers from oil, which decompose far more rapidly than other synthetic fibres, although this process typically take several years.

elastomeric yarn /elastomer Materials that demonstrate elasticity. Elastane is blended with other fibres to provide stretch and improve comfort and fit.

embodied energy The energy used in making a product, including fibre production, manufacturing, shipping to market and final disposal.

facing A strengthening layer of fabric added to an internal section or underside of a garment to improve shape, rigidity and/or durability.

Fairtrade Denotes a trading partnership based on dialogue, respect and transparency, that seeks greater equity in international trade by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.

ginning Method of separating cotton fibres from seeds.

GM Genetic modification: using biotechnology to create plants and their products that display novel characteristics such as increased resistance to pest infestations and the ability to withstand higher doses of herbicide.

GOTS Global Organic Textile Standards.

greige Fabric in its raw state before dyeing or bleaching.

integrated pest management

A systems approach to pest management based on an understanding of pest ecology and relying on a range of preventative tactics and biological controls to keep pest populations within acceptable limits. Reduced-risk pesticides are used only as a last resort, and with care to minimize risks.

LCA Lifecycle Assessment.

lyocell A biodegradable fibre made from wood pulp cellulose from managed forests.

madder Natural dye plant used to produce a red colour.


The treatment of cotton yarn or fabric with a caustic alkali solution which swells the fibres to improve strength, add lustre and increase affinity to dye.

mordant Substance used to fix dyes on fabric.

NGO Non-Governmental Organization: a legally constituted organization that operates independently from any government.

non-degradable fibres Based on synthetic polymers from oil and which do not decompose within human and industrial timescales.

PES Polyester: synthetic material derived from petrochemicals.

PET Polyethylene terephthalate: thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family that is used in synthetic fibres.

PFC Perfluorinates/perfluorinated chemicals: organic chemical compounds utilized to make fabrics stain,- oiland waterproof.

PLA Polylactide: a biodegradable polymer derived from corn starch.

polymer A high molecular substance from which manufactured fibres are produced.

quaternized silicone An antimicrobial finish that reduces bacterial content on a fabric’s surface in order to keep fabrics ‘fresher’.

retting A fermentation process of separating the fibre from the woody matter and plant tissue of the plant stem; usually for bast fibres.

RFID Radio Frequency Identification: information-collecting technology developed to optimize the flow of garments through the supply chain.

selvedge The warpwise edge of a woven fabric that has been finished to prevent fraying.

triclosan Chemical used as an antimicrobial treatment on textiles.

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme.

UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

USDA United States Department of Agriculture.

viscose A regenerated cellulose fibre and one of the first large-scale manufactured fibres.

warp threads The strongest yarn or thread in a woven fabric, running lengthways and parallel to the selvedge.

weft threads The crosswise yarn or thread in a woven fabric, interlaced at right angles with the warp.

woad Natural dye plant used to produce a blue colour.