Introducing the micro-modal Range
Viscose: The Next Generation
Micro-modal is a type of viscose fabric usually made from beech tree pulp. Since viscose was first manufactured in 1951 the production process and resultant fabrics been improved by three key generational changes. The differences between viscose fabrics such as modal, lyocell are subtle; it all comes down to the manufacturing process and the structure of the filament.
A Quick Re-cap: what is viscose?
Viscose is a plant-based semi-synthetic textile made from regenerated cellulose fibres. Viscose is produced by pulping wood, extracting the cellulose compounds and dissolving these compounds in a solvent. This creates a thick viscose liquid (hence the name) which is then forced through small holes into a solution which removes the solvent and leaves behind long strands of pure "regenerated" cellulose. These resultant filament threads are long and smooth (similar to silk) and are spun into a yarn.
Don’t let the name fool you: viscose is called a semi-synthetic fabric because although it is made from naturally occurring cellulose compounds (it does not contain any petroleum-based polymers) the cellulose filaments are shaped through a synthetic process and do not occur naturally in the same way that, for example, wool fibres occur naturally in sheep.
Because viscose fibres are synthetically produced, we have quite precise control over the formation of the filaments, resulting in a textile that is more uniform than most naturally occurring fibres. Viscose also has different properties, including varying absorbent and wicking abilities, and is delightfully free from the drawbacks that beset petroleum polymer-based fabrics (like polyester, or Nylon), such as the tendencies to zap you with static shocks and encourage the growth of smelly bacteria.
- Cotton is about 90% cellulose, whereas viscose is 100% cellulose
- Silk has such a smooth texture because of its long, continuous filament
- Wool is comprised of short staple fibres which gives a complex texture
First Generation Viscose
First generation viscose products are alternatively known as viscose, or rayon (for those across the pond). The original Robert Owen bamboo viscose undershirt is made from cellulose extracted from bamboo. We like bamboo as a source for it's potential to grow with less need for water or pesticides than say cotton. Moreover, we preferred the feel of bamboo viscose on the skin.
Second Generation Viscose
Micro-modal is a second generation viscose. It is produced in nearly the same way as bamboo viscose, except that the cellulose is most often sourced from beech tree pulp, and the filaments are put under tension as they are spun to make the molecular alignment more uniform. The result is an even stronger filament which makes for an even lighter, more sleek fabric than viscose. Micro-modal also has higher strength, better colour fastness and the ability to stand up to washing and tumble drying without losing its shape. We believe micro-modal is an excellent fabric for an undershirt because of it's smooth and lightweight feel.
Third Generation Viscose
The invention of lyocell, a third generation viscose, introduced another important development in the production process. Originally, the solvent used to extract the cellulose from the wood was sodium hydroxide (caustic soda). Third generation production techniques replace this chemical with a non-toxic organic compound called N-Methylmorpholine N-oxide (NMMO for short). This organic solvent is easier to filter and re-use in a closed loop production cycle, which equates to far less waste and is more eco-friendly.
Robert Owen Micro-modal Undershirts
Our micro-modal undershirts are exceptionally smooth and light, and with their invisible look and feel they are perfect for slipping under fitted shirts and tees. Even though it's lightweight Micro-modal maintains good absorbing characteristics; thanks to its uniform molecular alignment it can absorb 50% more water, per unit volume, than cotton. These undershirts will help prevent sweat marks from ruining your pristine outer layer.
With an exceptionally light and soft feel, our micro-modal undershirts may be just the ticket to complete your day. As your go-to undershirt, it will regulate your body temperature, let your body breathe, and help trap sweat to preserve your smart clothes. Moreover, micro-modal is also far more easy-care than cotton and other viscose fabrics. Unlike cotton, micro-modal is shrink resistant and will keep its shape and finish after both washing and tumble drying. It also dyes well, so we’ve launched a brand new range of colours from chocolate brown to heather grey for you to choose from. And, for the final maraschino cherry-on-top, micro-modal may even have natural anti-bacterial properties. It certainly helps keep the pong at bay compared to say synthetics like polyester and Nylon!
Over and above all these perks, we just love wearing micro-modal for its gentle, natural feel against the skin. Your skin is your first (and best) coat and shield. It is waterproof, insulating, antibacterial. Our undershirts seek to complement these crucial attributes as closely as possible, and with our new range of colours and styles, including long-sleeves for these long winters, we believe you can find a Robert Owen micro-modal undershirt which fits you perfectly.