Silk is one of my favorite warm weather fabrics. It keeps you cool in the summer heat, feels soft and smooth against the skin, and can look luxe and satiny or soft and subdued depending on how it was finished.
But how ethical and sustainable is silk? How can you buy and wear silk in a conscious way?
Great questions, dear reader! Read on to discover how silk can fit into your conscious closet.
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by GRANA and contains some affiliate links. I received a fee and was gifted products in exchange for my creative work (styling, photography and writing) and an honest review. No amount of money or product is worth more than my relationship with you, and I strive to provide transparent and honest content.
What is silk and how is it made?
Silk is a natural fiber, originating from ancient China and made from the cocoons of silkworms.
GRANA sources their silk from Huzhou, China, known as the “City of Silk,” where the best silk is still made using traditional techniques honed over generations.
Knowing that my silk garments were made in a way that preserves the heritage of this precious fabric, while supporting a community which has devoted generations to perfecting this craft, makes them all the more special to me!
Is silk ethical and sustainable?
Of course, this depends on your definitions of ethical and sustainable. Here, I’ll discuss the various pros and cons of silk, and I encourage you to make your own choices based on your own values.
- Silk is biodegradable, so it won’t stick around to haunt the earth and release toxic chemicals for hundreds of years like polyester and other synthetics.
- Producing silk has a lower environmental impact than many other fabrics. Silkworms feed on mulberry leaves, which do not require pesticides or fertilizer.
- High quality silk is meant to last a really long time. Investing in classic silk pieces instead of buying fast fashion pieces that you throw out after a year is a great way to practice slow and sustainable fashion.
- Making conventional silk requires, well, killing a lot of silkworms. This aspect of making silk has drawn criticism from vegans and animal rights activists. On the other hand, the worms are often eaten, reducing waste (although obviously that is probably not a consolatory thought for some).
- Silk production still uses toxic chemicals which can end up polluting groundwater if not properly processed.
- The silk industry in India has been known to use child labor. Like any other fabric, knowing where your fabric and clothes are made is key.
How can I buy silk consciously?
It’s impossible to make perfectly “ethical” choices, but there are some things you can do to make more informed and conscious decisions! Here are just a few ideas.
- Focus on quality. While you can buy cheaper silk pieces, these are often blended with non-sustainable, non-biodegradable fibers such as polyester. Higher quality silk will also last longer.
- Buy secondhand. A 100% silk item is an amazing thrift find! I’ve been focusing more on the materials of my thrifted purchases and looking for natural fibers that feel nicer against my skin and hold up well over time.
- Know where your silk comes from. Sadly, the silk industry, particularly in India, has been known to use child labor. Buying from brands that don’t tell you where your silk comes from means that you don’t know if the labor practices are ethical or not. Buying from brands like GRANA, which sources from factories renowned for their quality and audited by the company to ensure fair wages and safe working conditions, helps support a more ethical silk industry.
- Consider “peace silk.” If you are concerned about the welfare of silkworms, traditional methods of making silk do result in the deaths of a lot of worms. Here’s an article that discusses the ethics of silk from a vegan/animal rights point of view.
Caring for silk
Silk is a delicate fabric that requires extra care, but taking good care of your silk garments can make them last a lifetime or more!
- The best way to clean your silk pieces is by dry cleaning (try to use a green dry cleaner to avoid releasing toxic chemicals into the environment), but it’s also possible to hand wash silk using a mild detergent. Use these tips to hand wash your silk safely.
- Make sure to hang your silks to avoid wrinkles, and in a cool, dry place to avoid damage to the fabric.
- If necessary, use an iron on a low setting with a cloth between the iron and the silk.
- Use mothballs to keep your silks safe from moths!
GRANA Chinese silk review
GRANA’s silk is quite similar in feel to Everlane’s silk…which makes sense because they both source from Huzhou. It’s dreamily soft, with a subtle sheen and lustre.
The silk camis are double-lined, so you can go braless or just feel secure knowing your top is totally opaque. I love them both for effortless summer looks.
The silk pants are ridiculously comfortable and breezy in the summer heat. They feel like pajama pants, but are totally office-appropriate; I’ve been wearing them to work almost every day. They’re everything I want in a pair of pants!
For items not on sale (like the silk pieces in this post), feel free to use ‘CATxGRANA’ for 10% off until the end of June, or my referral link for 10% off your first purchase (no expiration date).
What fabrics would you like me to cover next on the blog? Let me know!