By Zoe Maletta

Natural fibers like silk or cotton may seem the most obvious options when it comes to choosing fabric for the sake of comfort, value and sustainability. However, Tencel -- the brand name of lyocell fiber -- deserves equal consideration for its versatility, affordability and environmentally-conscious production process. Considered a game-changer by its manufacturer, Lenzing Fibers Incorporated, the fabric claims to be both eco-friendly and economical.

Cotton Field
credit: samer chand/iStock/Getty Images
Cotton is considered a tencel fabric known for its versatile and functional properties.

History and Manufacturing Process

Manufactured first by Acordis Cellulosic Fibers, Tencel lyocell entered the consumer market in 1991. Because its properties and manufacturing processes were so unique, the Federal Trade Commission designated the fiber as a separate fiber group under the rayon category. Tencel lyocell is manufactured from the pulp of eucalyptus trees and is spun by solvents in a closed-loop process.

Benefits and Care

The American Fiber Manufacturing Association's Fiber Source describes Tencel lyocell as strong, absorbent and wrinkle resistant. Other qualities include good drapability and its ability to take on the appearance of both cotton and silk. Tencel lyocell can be either machine washable or dry clean only; follow the garment care label for the best results.