What Exactly is Modal?

Have you noticed an increase in the last 10 years or so of products made with modal?.  Have you, like me, wondered what exactly is modal?


Well, I’ve done a little digging and can now say that modal is the best of both worlds, both a natural and synthetic fabric.  The fabric is created by spinning cellulose that been reconstituted from natural materials (most commonly from beech trees and bamboo) and is very similar to rayon (also made from wood pulp).  Modal was originally developed in Japan in 1951 but hasn’t really come to popular favor until the last 10-15 years. Today modal is found under a variety of different names, including tencel and lenzing.


Part of what I like about modal is how it embodies so much of what I like about both cotton and synthetic fibers.  Derived from plant materials, it is breathable and readily absorbs moisture, yet like synthetic fiber, it holds its shape perfectly.  I find it softer than cotton, and almost as smooth as silk. Like cotton or silk, modal readily absorbs dyes, so can have wonderful and rich colors, but is colorfast like a synthetic.

People like to debate how natural or ecofriendly modal is based on production techniques and environmental impact.  It is a bit confusing to think of it as a solely natural fiber, as different chemicals are required to extract the cellulose from the woody pulp needed to make the material.  That said, it is commonly understood that the carbon footprint required to produce modal is considerably less than cotton. The production of modal requires less land per ton than cotton, and it consumes considerably less water to convert the fiber.


The Ace + Indigo modal is produced with the highest degree of environmental and ethical standards in mind.  Made in Portugal, there is an emphasis on providing materials and a work environment that meets contemporary, progressive standards, moving towards a model of greater sustainability.  And just as importantly, their products feel amazing! I hope you will give them a chance, and learn just how wonderful modal underwear can be!

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