Artificial fashion


Alberta Ferretti Spring/Summer 2010 campaign photographed by Steven Meisel
Take a cup of coffee made of freshly grounded organic beans, inhale the velvet aroma, taste the smooth rich flavour, please your senses and let your mind drift away for a moment. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Would you still go to your favourite coffee shop if they served you Nescafe original? I doubt that you would come back for a top up. Actually I doubt you would even finish your first cup. In fact I think you will make an official complain about the quality of coffee you’ve just been served and had to paid for. Because there’s no instant variety that could make you feel the same way the real thing does.

And yet so many would happily wear clothes made, just like that cup of instant coffee, from something artificial without thinking twice.

Polyester. The word that can change my mind about making a purchase just like any E-number of a food label can, since I don’t do those either.

A few days ago I read an article that praised techno fabrics and highlighted their brilliance for the industry. Perhaps, polyester, nylon, neoprene and polyamide have their place in fashion as they allow designers to express their vision and shape the garments in every possible way. After all, some clothes are made for the show and the rest, preferably polyester-free – to be worn.

Although a good plan in theory, the reality of it is not quite as promising as the artificial materials now seem to be overtaking the natural materials, bolt after bolt after bolt.

Now finding a cotton summer dress, silk skirt or wool sweater can be practically a mission impossible, especially when shopping on high street.

What depresses me even more is that, despite the relatively inexpensive production process, the prices of clothes can be as high as if they were made from the natural fabrics – the latter especially noticeable when browsing designer labels.

Seeing a Lanvin dress made from 100% polyester kills me. Yes, the fabric may now be advanced and actually allow the wearer to live in the dress for a whole day without perspiring as if having a hot flash or producing odours that don’t just follow her as she enters the room but rather make everyone aware of her upcoming visit.

Everything is possible. And still, to me synthetics in fashion is a cheat.

I know that polyester is easier to shape into a dress than silk. I know that the acrylic sweater will last much longer than its wool cousin. And this is why I agree that those fabrics do have their place in fashion.

On the other hand, I know that it’s not just about the fabric, but the skill that shapes the dress. And perhaps, what designers need to think about isn’t constantly looking for the new materials, but preserving and honing the skills of the artisans who knew how to make a puffy skirt from silks and cottons and how to create the folds that will remain in place once finished.

I am not a cave woman and I understand the importance of progress, but I also know that there is no amount of polyester, acrylic or polyamide that will ever feel as scrumptious as cashmere, silk, cotton and wool do against my skin. It’s not just about luxury for anyone can find a cashmere jumper or silk shirt without paying a fortune. It’s more about love. The love of fashion, style, craftsmanship, beauty and, lets not forget, yourself.

There’s the only one exception I am prepared to make and it is for Azzedine Alaia and his viscose-based designs – he can’t do wrong, as far as I am concerned, he knows the magic.

What are your thoughts on techno fabrics? Do you wear them? Do you look at the care label to see what the garment is made of? Would you buy a designer dress made of polyester?

Photo source: Alberta Ferretti Spring/Summer 2010 campaign photographed by Steven Meisel


  1. <3

  2. This is EXACTLY what I've been thinking for about half a year. Each time hopelessly entering Zara-H&M-whatever, feeling fooled and dissatisfied with what had to be soft and delicate and pleasant to touch, trying to escape from polyester empire has so far brought me to fabric shops and a local tailor. What a relief it is to feel and love the fabric of your dress. Here's my experience:

    It has been hard enough to find the right cut, length, proportions. Now it is to find it all - and not in synthetics. No wonder a lot of women just give up.
    It all points to one thought: modern fashion tends to expect you just see the dress online and buy it. Touching it, feeling it, thinking of it? Why bother.

  3. My thoughts on man-made fabrics are very much based on my own special needs when it comes to clothing. Polyester is the bane of my existence - especially when it is used by designers like Lanvin. I know that it has certain merits, as you've mentionned, but nothing on earth could convince me that a piece made of polyester is worth the Lanvin pricetag. I hesitate to buy polyester at H&M, never mind! With that said, if it weren't for acrylic, I could not live... I am highly allergic to animal fibres and just running my fingers over a wool sweater in a store can leave my fingers red, swollen and burning. I suppose I am slightly hypocritical, in a sense, given that I refuse polyester but beg for acrylic... but my opinions are definitely coloured by my own fashion needs!

  4. Little Rus, I am always looking at the composition of the product and yes, the polyester is everywhere and you pay almost if not the same price for it. And for what? For something that looks pretty and clean for one or two hours, after that, you have to change. I thought that this was happening only with the small shops or low to medium price shops, not the great designers, I was sure that the great designers we all admire have great fabrics, it's not only the tailoring, but also the fabric that cost...but I was wrong?

  5. No I wouldnt Natalia, I also look at the care label with attention and I prefer to avoid polyester as well:) Kisses! xo

  6. I do agree that the best dresses are made from real fabrics such as silk and cotton but I do myself own a few polyester dresses. I really like BCBG and some of their clothes are made from poly.


  7. I feel designer wear should be synonymous with quality fabric. I think each one of us expects that from them. Especially with the price tag that's attached. I usually stay away from those materials, but every once in awhile I do find a garment that looks good in it. But nothing compares to the feeling of great fabric. Fabulous post Natalia!

  8. You're absolutely right, it's getting hard to find clothes made of natural materials these days. And unfortunately we all have to wear some synthetics. But when it comes to expensive labels, they just don't have any excuse of using synthetics, not for such price.

  9. Great post, totally agree, always prefer wearing natural fibers, my skin is breathing and it just feels so right. Also wanted to add: Natalie, your writing is SO GREAT! I always enjoy reading your posts, and they always garnished with beautiful photos, or... may be all of these gorgeous photos are garnished and completed with your incredible words!

  10. I actually had a 'ugh. polyester' moment this weekend at Banana Republic.
    Loved the colour, the cut and the overall vibe of the shirt...but if I'm paying that much money for a top, it'd darn well better be silk - or at least silk blend!

    I've tried to shift my purchases into more natural fibres, and have had to adjust my care routine accordingly (hand washing cashmere in the sink for the first time was heart palpitation inducing) but I think it's worth it.


  11. Such a great article, Natalia! I had an idea of a similar post in mind, but you did such a wonderful job expressing my exact thoughts on synthetic fabrics in fashion. Yes, the most upsetting thing is the unjustified price of all the high-street garments made of artificial fabrics. I mean, shirts in 100% polyester cost twice as much as the shirts in 100% cotton, both from the same brand. Yes, the design of those in cotton may not be as elaborate as of the other ones, which only shows that the brand's efforts are channeled on the use of artificial materials. No, I wouldn't buy a designer dress made of polyester. I'm even more upset when I think that designers use these fabrics too, because, as you say, why don't they put more effort on preserving the skills of the artisans who know how to work any natural fabric into the most beautiful, lasting piece of clothing? We can't change whatever policy is behind each brand and big designer, but we can make a choice.

  12. No,NO,and NO......for techno fabrics,dear Natalia!!!

    I like to read your post really much because all what do you says is absolutely true.....unfortunately:(((

    I think that techno fabrics are not expensieve and very easy to maintain and make clothes from these......
    TOTALY not comfortable,totally NOT lively!
    You can never feel a giant movement of the silk, air and wind in it!

    And you never feel unimaginable comfort of cashmere.....

    I want to stay by my favs as a wool sweater and my very light silk skirt:-)))*

    Thank you for your great post!

    Hugs to you,

  13. Hear hear, Natalia!

    You basically wrote everything I have been thinking for probably years. Recently I went searching for a casual shirt for the summer and at some point I began to doubt they made them of cotton anymore. Everything I saw was made of polyester. I went home empty handed and uninspired ... and probably with static hair after touching the fabric.

  14. beautiful pics my dear!

  15. Dear Natalia, you´re so right! I try to avoid Polyester especially in sweaters, shirts and pants but this seems not really easy. And for me it´s a big question why the great designers are using polyester, too. Hope that a change in this habits will come very soon!

    xx Rena

  16. Ok first things first, you should write for a fashion magazine. This is such a new take on fashion, one that you usually don't read about on fashion blogs.

    I;ll be honest, I don't know jack shit about fabrics (other than Tafta and Jersey). I could not tell the difference between Polyester or what have you, if my life depended on it. I think it depends entirely on the market. If I'm shopping from H&M or Zara, I can imagine or rather expect them to use artitificial fabrics. But Lanvin using artificial fabric? I understand that you are paying for the exclusivity of the brand, but you are also paying for quality, and if it's on par with mass producing fashion retailers, then yes, I feel cheated.

    I recently purchased a pair of Prada pants. I mean, they look expensive, but what I was really sold on was the material, and how I felt when I wore them. Jesus, my thighs have never felt so fantastic in pants. I'll have to check what type of fabric it is :)


  17. excellent post and a lot to think about!

  18. Natalia, I share your views completely and this is such a great, honest post. You know my views about polyester, which I shared in a recent post, but I starter the 'natural fabric' conversation few years ago ( I also understand that the future of fashion might be in the fabrics that designers use to create certain silhouettes; but personally, I don't want to trade the feel and quality of natural fibers with the syntetic ones. Thanks again for this post! Caterina