22/05/18 What Is Cupro?

If you, like us, have started to notice a trend in certain brands paying tribute to their new star fabric and you’ve got no clue what it is and where it comes from, don’t worry. We’ve gone and done the homework for you, so sit back while we give you the low-down on new kid on the block cupro, making a well-deserved name for itself.

Give me the basics

We know that cotton production is a hugely intensive process, particularly with regards to the enormous volumes of water used and if not organic, the intense use of pesticides. In order to reduce waste, cupro is the by-product of the industrial harvest of cotton, specifically the waste fibres that are too small to spin. Otherwise known as cotton linter, it’s an ultra-fine, silky fibre that sticks to cotton seeds during the textile production process and is usually thrown away. Instead, it’s stripped from the plant and dissolved into a thick liquid solution (known as a viscous solution) and then spun into fibre, which is then woven into the cupro fabric.

Used as an alternative to silk or rayon, cupro has all the drape and textural qualities you would expect from a luxury fabric. Silky-smooth, durable, and drapes well, it might surprise you that you might have actually been wearing cupro in the past and not even known it as it’s widely used in the lining of garments thanks to these qualities, like New York label Amur, with the name standing for ‘A Mindful Use of Resources’.


girl in floral dress made from cupro sustainable fabric

Image courtesy: Amur

And, it you’re worried that you’ll be sacrificing premium look and feel for sustainable points, you couldn’t be more wrong. Cupro is often used as a vegan and machine-washable alternative to silk because it’s as smooth and drapes in all the right places. A likely reason why we’re seeing more and more brands choosing cupro as the fabric of choice for their designs.

Winning facts

  • A waste product of cotton.
  • Cupro is biodegradable as well as easily recycled, since it’s made from 100% plant-based materials.
  • Produced in a closed-loop, much like Tencel or Modal, this means that any chemicals used can be extracted afterwards and the waste water easily reused.
  • Ecologically: as well as a by-product of the cotton industry, it dyes easily and therefore requires less dye.
  • Hypoallergenic, breathable, anti-static, and stretch-resistant.
  • Machine-washable… major win!


girls doing aerobics wearing cupro fabric

Image courtesy: Girlfriend Collective

In Girlfriend Collective’s case, the cupro material they are using for their tops comes from a Japanese facility that recycles all waste produced by the plant and achieves a near 100% recycling rate. While the cupro t-shirt already requires far fewer gallons of water to make than a traditional cotton tee, Girlfriend Collective goes the extra mile and is donating 10% of net proceeds to Charity Water to offset the cost of producing their collection.

Just a few examples of brands that are going the extra mile by sourcing textiles that limit the use of chemicals in their production, reducing waste, using organic, vintage or recycled materials, and keeping production local to reduce carbon emissions. All responsible steps in the right direction, and all the while creating pieces that the world’s coolest girls would have no problem wearing.