Bamboo Clothing and Leather Clothing – A Comparison

Clothing today is not merely about functionality and covering the body, in fact it goes way beyond fashion and style. What you wear reflects your principles, your emotions and the stand you take in caring for the environment. Take the case of fur. What was once a fashion statement is now passé, a mink stole casually draped over the shoulders no longer is a show of wealth, it denotes your attitude towards cruelty to animals.

Bamboo and leather clothing are in two separate categories. While the first is like any other material to the touch – some however feel it to be a bit coarse – leather clothing is discernible from a mile away. There is a specific sheen, a specific finish that makes it stand out in a crowd. However, no comparison will be complete without going into some detail about the manufacturing process because therein lies the ultimate texture of the cloth.

Bamboo yarn is made of bamboo fibres which can be fully made from bamboo only or mixed with cotton yarn to add resilience. It is often blended with hemp or spandex to give the desired flexibility. Swiss Company Litrax has developed a unique process for turning bamboo to fibre. After the bamboo has been crushed, an enzyme is added before it is washed thoroughly to extract the fibre which is then spun into yarn. The material that evolves from this process is of high quality and very durable. Bamboo is a fast growing plant and like tree pruning in Melbourne where the tree soon gets back to its shape, bamboo too can be cultivated to replenish stocks quickly.

Leather processing on the other hand has caused immense harm to the environment because highly toxic and harsh chemicals are needed for its processing. Almost all leather is chrome tanned. Chromium is a substance that is considered to be extremely hazardous for the environment. Other pollutants used include acids, salt and lime sludge. Huge quantities of water are required for leather tanning and this waste water mixes with ground water to create highly contaminated soil structure. Further, chrome shavings are dumped in landfills further aggravating the problem. This is apart from the “cruelty to animals” issue.

What then are the advantages of bamboo clothing? Bamboo fabric is suitable for all temperatures since it is a hollow breathable micro-fibre. It is also very soft and smooth and rests well against the skin. Its anti-static properties make it ideal for people with skin rashes and allergies. The fabric is also anti-bacterial and does not exude bad odours even after many days of use. And finally, bamboo fabric blocks harmful UV rays, often to the tune of 97% and hence this clothing is the much preferred option outdoors, especially on vacation.

Leather clothing is smart, is chic and frequently seen on the ramps. It also aids the macho look and just right as a biker’s accessory due to its wind resistant qualities. However, studies have shown that finished leather clothing, particularly those that are in direct contact with the skin like gloves and shoes can cause skin reactions like eczema. This is because processed leather contains high levels of hexavalent chromium, a toxic chemical and a strong allergen.

Take your pick between bamboo and leather clothing. Personal preference is the final decision making component.