Ride in Style: Wood-based Sportswear

by Grace Tatigian

So Ride Wear, a French outdoor sportswear company, produces shirts and shorts made from wood fibre.

The fabric, called Tencel™, is manufactured by an Austrian company. The branded lyocell, and modal fibres are produced by environmentally responsible processes from the sustainably sourced natural raw material wood. The wood pulp comes from eco-managed forests, PEFC certified. The unique physical properties of Tencel™ lyocell fibres lead to its strength, efficient moisture absorption, and gentleness to the skin.

“My customers are active people between 35 and 60 years old who no longer want polyester-type materials in which they sweat,” says founder Fabienne Petetin. “They aren’t looking for performance, but for comfort and are turning to organic materials.”

Tencel™ was a natural choice for the brand because it prevents the proliferation of bacteria and therefore avoids unpleasant odours. It’s light, stretchy, airy, and breathable. Derived from renewable wood sources using sustainable production processes, the Tencel™ brand is a family of fibres well-suited for sporting activities. Tencel™ cellulosic fibres are naturally structured to manage the transportation of moisture.

“Submicroscopic canals between the microscopic fibrils of cellulose fibres regulate the absorption and release of moisture,” explains the Tencel™ website. “Which contribute to your performance of physical activity by keeping your body pleasantly cool and dry.”

So Ride Wear began with T-shirts and bike jerseys made from wood-based material and recently launched a shorts line. The bottoms are described as strong with increased breathability, which will stay soft and colourfast long-term. The product description boasts freedom of movement with a full-width band around the waistband that provides excellent comfort when bending or biking. The shorts are comfortable and have deep pockets so that nothing gets lost. They have a versatile cut without zippers so that they can slip on.

“We did a big survey of our community to design the wood shorts to be as versatile as possible,” reads the shorts’ description. “So Ride Wear customers told us they wanted shorts that weren’t too tight around the waist, but more importantly, that held up well to avoid the ‘plumber’s crack’ when moving. [They] also asked for them to be long but not too long, light, and airy. That’s how we made it, with big pockets to put your phone in.”

The shorts are made 98 per cent from wood fibre. The remaining two per cent is polyester, sourced from textile industry scraps, and can be found inside the pockets and the waistband. They provide lightness and a great stretch, in addition to drying quickly. The company is dedicated to using upcycled materials because it doesn’t want to make polluting materials; a circular economy alternative in perfect agreement with the company’s values.

“So Ride Wear clothing is designed in ethical quality materials, tested, and approved in condition,” indicates the Ethical Materials section of the website. “With our brand of environmentally friendly outdoor sportswear, we’ve chosen to work this year with different materials but each with a particularity useful to our practice.”

Tencel™ is being used not only by So Ride Wear; other large international sportswear companies, such as Patagonia and The North Face, have also adopted Tencel™. It has also extended into everyday wear with companies such as H&M, Levi’s, and Hanes using the wood-based material in their designs.


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