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Bamboo textiles are cloth, yarn, and clothing made out of bamboo fibres. While historically used only for structural elements, such as bustles and the ribs of corsets, in recent years a range of technologies have been developed allowing bamboo fibre to be used in a wide range of textile and fashion applications. Modern clothing labeled bamboo is usually rayon. The bamboo yarn can also be blended with other textile fibres such as hemp or even spandex.
In China and Japan, thin strips of bamboo were woven together into hats and shoes. One particular design of bamboo hats was associated with rural life, being worn almost universally by farmers and fishermen in order to protect their heads from the sun.
In the West, bamboo, alongside other components such as whalebone and steel wire, was sometimes used as a structural component in corsets, bustles and other types of structural elements used in fashionable women's dresses.
Cellulose from bamboo is suitable for processing into viscose rayon. Bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk are extracted using a steaming process and then mechanically crushed.
Viscose manufactured from bamboo is promoted as having environmental advantages over wood-pulp viscose. Bamboo crops may be grown on marginal land unsuitable for forestry; although demand for bamboo has sometimes led to felling of forests to plant bamboo, though this has become less common since Chinese forestry policy reforms in the 1990s. The viscose processing results in the same chemical waste products as wood-pulp viscose, notably carbon disulfide, but bamboo cellulose is suitable for a closed-loop viscose process that captures all solvents used.
The Swiss company Litrax is one company involved in the manufacturing of bamboo fibre. Litrax claims to use a more natural way of processing the bamboo into fibre. In this the woody part of the bamboo is crushed mechanically before a natural enzyme retting and washing process is used to break down the walls and extract the bamboo fibre. This bast fibre is then spun into yarn. In fine counts the yarn has a silky touch. The same manufacturing process is used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp. Bamboo fabric made from this process is sometimes called bamboo linen. The natural processing of litrax bamboo allows the fibre to remain strong to produce an extremely high quality product. This process gives a material that is very durable.
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