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From Forest To Ocean, The Remarkable Story Of TENCEL™

3 min read

From Forest To Ocean, The Remarkable Story Of TENCEL™

Ever given a tree a hug? Supposedly it’s good for you - provoking a release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for bodily calm. 

But what if trees could hug back? 

That’s where TENCEL™ comes in. Gorgeously silky and sourced from wood chips; wearing TENCEL™ Lyocell is like getting a big hug from the forest! It has moisture absorbent properties, a refreshing scent, and is even more breathable than cotton. Always popular with our community of ocean lovers, TENCEL™ Lyocell is made in an eco-friendly way. It is known for an innovative production process that recovers and reuses 99% of the water and solvents required to dissolve the raw material.

Explore the story of TENCEL™ in more detail below!


TENCEL™ fibers have botanic origins. The raw material, wood, is renewable and is extracted from sustainably managed forests. These forests have received high standard sustainability certifications and exclude ancient or endangered tree species. 

The history of TENCEL™ harks back to a 19th Century pulp and paper mill from the rural town of Lenzing, Austria. This provided the infrastructure and precedent for a much more ambitious project - launched in the 1990s - that has since conquered the world of eco-friendly fashion. TENCEL™ fibers production was initially designed for the “soft denim” market, soon branching out into knitwear and beyond!

Why are  TENCEL™ fibers made from trees and not other plants? 

As the TENCEL™ team explains in this video, trees “are so beautifully simple because the mineral components that need to be removed are concentrated in the bark.” Meaning: no initial chemicals are required to get through to the good stuff. They are also available in abundance right the year round, unlike many other plants. 

Production Pathway

TENCEL™ fibers derive from cellulose - which is the main constituent of plant cells. To obtain this cellulose, the TENCEL™ production process turns felled logs into small wood chips, which are then treated with solvents. The resulting pulp is pushed through a spinneret - often compared to a shower head - to produce thin TENCEL™ fibers. 

If managed poorly, the solvents could be harmful to ecosystems. But the biorefineries that produce TENCEL™ cellulosic fibers are especially engineered to protect the environment. As mentioned before, they reuse 99% of related solvents. They also recycle water, and return it to rivers and streams completely clean. 

This revolutionary “closed loop” approach earned Lenzing AG (the manufacturer of TENCEL™ fibers) a European environment award.

One of TENCEL™’s slogans is feel good fibers since 1992. This feel good factor is integral to the TENCEL™ story, and is what makes it so popular with fans of slow fashion.

Ocean-Inspired Garments

Lenzing produces two different types of top-quality TENCEL™ branded fibers: Lyocell and Modal. They each have their pluspoints, but TENCEL™ Lyocell is what we know and love. 

Once spun into yarns, TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are turned into fabric by our textile suppliers, such as Santanderina (headquartered in Spain). We can then start to dream about incorporating TENCEL™ Lyocell into our Mediterranean influenced, ocean-inspired designs! Given Lenzing’s careful treatment of water and solvents, TENCEL™ Lyocell could not be more appropriate for TWOTHIRDS. It helps us to protect what we love: the ocean. 

For two years running, TENCEL™ Lyocell has comprised 8% of all the materials we used. Check our new Eco Report for more details. 

End Of Life

TENCEL™ fibers famously “comes from nature and returns to nature.” If you reach a point when you no longer want to use a garment made from TENCEL™ Lyocell, you’ll be able to let it decompose naturally. In fact, it has been proven to biodegrade fully in marine conditions within 30 days, making it quite literally ocean-friendly

The biodegradability and natural origins of TENCEL™ Lyocell testifies to its innate sustainability, from cradle to grave. 


As Richard Powers writes in his groundbreaking environmental novel, The Overstory, “What you make from a tree should be at least as miraculous as what you cut down.” 

Thanks to TENCEL™ Lyocell, we can turn trees into tees. 

What could be more miraculous than that?

TENCEL™ is a trademark of Lenzing AG.