What Is Lyocell vs Tencel? + Where to Find Tencel Clothing

In the world of sustainable fashion, materials are always a hot topic. Whether we’re talking deadstock, low impact, recycled or repurposed, there are a million different opinions as to what is truly best from an environmental perspective. Lyocell fabric is certainly no exception to this debate. While some hail this popular fabric as a magic bullet for the fashion industry, others claim it’s merely another case of greenwashing.

Let’s dive right in and see what we can find out.

What Is Lyocell?

Smooth, breathable, moisture-wicking and naturally wrinkle-resistant, lyocell has a number of benefits and applications. But what is it?

To put it simply, lyocell is a semi-synthetic fabric made from cellulose, originating mainly from Eucalyptus wood, although Birch and Oak can also be used. Despite coming from trees, lyocell isn’t considered a fully natural material, as it requires an intensive process to transform the wood chips into the soft, airy fabric we see in stores.

According to “Fashion Fibers: Designing for Sustainability” by Annie Gullingsrud, first the cellulose must be separated from other compounds found in the tree. The wood is dissolved into a pulp using a nontoxic solvent called amine oxide and is then extruded through tiny holes using a tool called a spinneret to form the fibers. From there the lyocell fibers are dried, spun and processed further .

Generic Lyocell vs. TENCEL Lyocell

There are two main types of lyocell currently available on the market: generic lyocell and TENCEL Lyocell. Although both varieties are made from the same base, the manufacturing process is vastly different. Developed by Lenzing in Austria, TENCEL Lyocell is considered a sustainable option primarily because of its closed-loop system

To begin, the trees are only harvested from sustainably managed farms certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications, and the fiber is only supplied from production locations that comply with the EU Timber Regulations. Besides being rapidly renewable, Eucalyptus trees are used for TENCEL Lyocell because of their resilience and ability to grow without artificial irrigation, gene manipulation or synthetic pesticides. 

Chemical pollution is a big problem in fabric manufacturing. TENCEL Lyocell is a better option because throughout the manufacturing process, more than 99 percent of the chemicals used are recovered, filtered, and reused, and any remaining emissions are safely broken down in biological wastewater treatment plants. 

In general, lyocell is biodegradable. If all other materials, dyes and trims used in the clothing are also biodegradable, then lyocell, unlike other synthetic fabrics, will decompose under the right conditions.

This is what makes TENCEL Lyocell a good alternative to many other fabrics, both natural and synthetic. When done correctly, the production process can save water, divert chemical run-off, and prevent further pollution. Conventionally made lyocell gives no guarantee of a closed-loop system or responsibly sourced raw materials, and this is why opting for certified TENCEL Lyocell is key. 

Assuming it is TENCEL, the main disadvantages of lyocell are price and availability. As you can probably imagine, the manufacturing process requires very specific technology and expertise, the cost of which gets passed onto customers. That being said, the more widely it is used, the less expensive it will become over time. 

Keep on reading to learn about 5 places to find TENCEL Lyocell clothing!


Best Brands That Make TENCEL Clothing

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)
Image credit: Organic Basics

1. Organic Basics

Known for their comfortable undergarments and everyday loungewear, Organic Basics is the perfect place to stock up on all your essentials. Their well-rounded collection of men’s and women’s clothing is designed in Copenhagen and produced ethically in factories throughout Europe. You’ll find ultra-soft underwear, sleepwear, and casual daywear in a range of sustainable fabrics, like TENCEL Lyocell of course!

Price: $56-$170
Size Range:
XS-XL
Values:
Sustainable materials, factory transparency, seasonless collections, GOTS certified cotton, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, B Corp, body-inclusive models
Availability: Based in Denmark, ships worldwide. Available in select Canadian retailers.


Image credit: tentree

2. tentree

Designed in Canada and made ethically in factories worldwide, tentree has just what you need to create the perfect capsule wardrobe. They offer stylish, high-quality, and affordable basics for everyone in the family — accessories included. And you guessed it…for every item purchased they’ll plant ten trees. Each piece comes with its own unique tree code that you can use to track your ten! 

Price: $18-$328
Size Range:
XS-XL
Values:
Sustainable materials, recycled/reclaimed materials, factory transparency, seasonless collections, GOTS certified cotton, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, B Corp, carbon-neutral shipping
Availability: Based on Canada, ships worldwide. Available in select Canadian retailers. 


Image credit: Encircled

3. Encircled

Made with comfort and wearability in mind, Encircled is a Canadian-made brand creating high-quality pieces for all the seasons of your life. You’ll find everyday basics like t-shirts and sweats, along with dressier pieces to take you from day to night. Each garment is cut and sewn at one of their Toronto factories using natural and OEKO-TEX® 100 certified materials. 

Price: $48-$248
Size Range:
XS-XXL (virtual fittings available)
Values:
Sustainable materials, recycled/reclaimed materials, factory transparency, seasonless collections, GOTS certified cotton, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, B Corp
Availability: Based in Canada, ships to most countries


Image credit: Paneros

4. Paneros

Flattering silhouettes and feminine prints are what’s on the menu at Paneros. This LA-based brand works with two artisan factories in Indonesia to bring their sustainably made styles to life. Although they tend to focus on deadstock materials, we’re sure you’ll love their current selection of TENCEL Lyocell designs.

Price: $89-$179
Size Range
: XS-XL
Values: Sustainable materials, recycled/reclaimed materials, factory transparency, GOTS certified cotton, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics
Availability: Based in US, ships worldwide


Image credit: Toad & Co

5. Toad & Co

Based in California and made responsibly worldwide, Toad & Co has a wide selection of TENCEL Lyocell clothing for both men and women. Their current collection features a mix of flowing woven pants, easy dresses and versatile t-shirts in a range of prints. They also support a number of great social causes and initiatives including Search INC, an organization that provides skills training and employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Price: $18-$125
Size Range: XS-XL
Values: Sustainable materials, recycled/reclaimed materials, factory transparency, GOTS certified cotton, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics
Availability: Based in US, ships within North America. Available in Toad & Co stores and select retailers across North America.


BONUS: TUCK

Now that you know all the best places to find lyocell clothing, you might be wondering how else to incorporate this sustainable fabric into your life. Lucky for you, Tuck carries a wide range of TENCEL Lyocell sheets, duvet covers, bundles and even crib sheets to add to your linen closet. All of their products are made from a luxurious proprietary blend of GOTS organic cotton and TENCEL Lyocell, which means they’ll completely biodegrade once they’re no longer usable. Check out our past article on sustainable bedding to learn the pros and cons of each fabric, and where to find it! Go ahead, get your nap on.


There you have it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick overview of lyocell and TENCEL Lyocell materials and some great places to find it. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!

  1. Monika
    | Reply

    Hi Erin, hess natur has a small range of Tencel Lyocell clothing, for example shirts, nightwear, and similar. As I am Germany-based I prefer to shop where I create the least amount of traffic. Also, customs duties are prohibitive on textiles from North America.

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