Materials > Textiles

Polyester fabric

A versatile synthetic fabric
Also known as
Polyethylene Naphthalate

What is Polyester fabric?

Polyester is made from plastic, specifically PET. Polyester is often compared to nylon. The fabrics are similar, but polyester can have a wider range of uses, though it’s not quite as durable.

Since the 70s, polyester has become increasingly common in the clothing industry due to its low cost. Nearly half of the world’s clothing is made from polyester. In many applications, polyester is combined with other fabrics to give it various qualities like softness or stretchiness. Clothing is already very difficult to recycled due to a lack of dedicated waste streams, but when polyester is combined with another fiber (be it natural or synthetic) it is virtually unrecyclable.

Recycled polyester (rPET) has become more common, especially in apparel industry with stretchy clothes workout clothes and swimsuits being made from recycled plastic bottles. Some virgin polyester or other fabric types may be required to achieve desired performance.

Why choose it?

  • Holds dye longer than Nylon
  • Does not absorb water
  • Better color fastness in UV rays
  • Resistant to pilling
  • Resistant to stretch and shrinkage
  • Resistant to most chemicals
  • Resilient when wet or dry
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Dries quickly
  • Lightweight
  • Mildew resistant
  • Very UV resistant
  • More heat resistant that nylon (but still flammable)
  • Usually cheaper than nylon
  • Water resistant
  • Can be recycled (when not mixed with threads of other fabrics)
  • Recycled feedstock is available

Why not choose it?

  • Flammable. Will melt and burn
  • Holds onto odors
  • When washed, synthetic fabrics release microplastics into waterways
  • Derived from fossil fuels, a non renewable resource
  • For single use applications, a curbside recyclable material like kraft paper might be a better option.