Get to Know: Cupro

Get to Know: Cupro

If one could invent the perfect fabric, what characteristics would it take on? It would have the softness of silk with the breathability of cotton, as well as the strength and durability of nylon. It would be something that’s easy to care for: resistant to static, wrinkles, and water, and machine-washable. Basically,  we’d want a luxurious fabric that captures the beauty of fine materials without its tedious maintenance. Of course, it must be environmentally friendly as well.

There’s a name for this fabric. Fashionkind presents: cupro.

Cupro was first commercially produced in 1901 by the J.P. Bemberg company, and has improved since then to be used in modern-day pieces like H Fredriksson’s siren dress and lina coat. The wonder-material starts off as linter, the thread-like material that encapsulates a plant seed, like that of cotton or various types of woody plants. (Think of the gooey substance you see around fruit and vegetable seeds, like in tomatoes and watermelons -- but linter is composed of fibers and is not viscous.) The plant is harvested and its main fibers are removed. The seed, with the linter surrounding it, remain. To make cupro, the linter is then processed and dissolved by a mild chemical solution of copper and ammonia. This is where cupro gets its name; this solution is called cuprammonium. It is pulled and thinned to become solid, becoming the fine, smooth, and shiny material we adore.

Our H Fredriksson stina dress is 100% cupro.

We love cupro for its high quality and soft feel, but even more for its status as a fabric alternative. Being entirely composed of plant byproducts, the cupro fabric makes use of plant material that often goes to waste. Not only is it biodegradable, but it breaks down faster than other synthetic fabrics, including cupro’s predecessor, rayon. Here we must acknowledge the dilemma of man-made materials like rayon, cupro, and their relatives: although these fabrics are great plant-based alternatives to textiles that derive from animal fur or hide, the chemicals used to process them can be harsh, and oftentimes are not disposed of properly. That being said, while the processes of rayon and cupro are comparable, the cuprammonium solution that is used to create cupro is much more mild, and our responsible retailers always ensure its proper disposal. The fact that cupro makes use of otherwise discarded plant product, along with its rapid biodegradability secure its position as queen of alternative fabrics. So, we’re pretty sure the earth will love your onzu pants or long siren dress almost as much as you will. 

 More from our cupro collection (including free shipping worldwide):