Introducing Kapok – a Sustainable Fiber!

Have you heard of Kapok yet? I didn’t until a few weeks ago… and when I researched about it, I was quite amazed and thought it could be interesting for you as well to know about this sustainable fabric that is only now becoming part of a fair fashion piece here and there.

Unfortunatly there aren’t that many kapok-pieces out there yet, but I think, and hope, that this will change soon. I actually got to know about kapok when I scrolled through the ThokkThokk online shop – because they have a kapok t-shirt. I was curios and did my research… and ordered a shirt … to share all about this material with you here today 🙂

Also, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to take some pictures together with my husband (which is always the most fun) since ThokkThokk offers a kapok shirt for both him and her. So I hope you enjoy these pictures of us – and the content of the post 😀

So, about Kapok… the fiber comes from a tree and is 100% natural. The first and most important to notice is probably that kapok is wild grown and therefore it does not need any articifial watering! Kapok trees are native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The trees are considered one of the largest trees in the world!

The “tree wool”, as kapok is called as well, grows in big pods on the trees and the ripe unopened pods are normally harvested by knocking them off the tree. Afterwards, the fruits are hulled and seed and fibre are removed from the pods by hand. A tree yields about 15 kg of fiber a year.

For 1 kg of kapok you actually need 15 pods!!! So imagine how many pods that are when a tree yields 15 kg!

Kapok is a sustainable fiber as the kapok trees usually grow wild – they do not need water, nor pesticides, and the harvest is done by hand (no machines). Since a tree is high in yield, the farmer can make a decent amount of money with only one tree. And it is not only the fiber that is of value: the kapok tree seeds contain a precious oil which is used to make soap.

Also, since kapok is an all natural fiber, it is biodegradable. 

But there is more to the fabric than just being sustainable!

Kapok is light weight –  8 times lighter than cotton! it repels water (this is why it was used to fill life jackets for a long time) and it a very bouncing fiber, meaning that it bounces back to the original shape after washing. This is why it was used to stuff teddy bears, actually! Today they are all filled with polyester, but back in the days, it was kapok! Furthermore, kapok is a warm fiber and has awesome insulation properties – which makes it perfect for both warm and cold weather (it keeps you cold in hot weather and warm in cold weather).

However, the disadvantage of kapok is that it is very fine. It is not possible to make a yarn out of 100% kapok, as it simply is too fine to spin. Since a few years though, it is possible to blend it with cotton!

For a t-shirt like the ones we are wearing here, 20% of kapok is blended with 80% organic cotton. Even though this may not seem much, it actually means 20% less water for each shirt! I think that isn’t too bad at all!

The cotton-kapok blend has a nice thick feel, and a stable fit. I first thought that it might be too warm for the current weather (30°C) but it actually does cool you down! Similar to linen or hemp, it isn’t getting too warm in a kapok shirt, even when it’s only 20% kapok and 80% cotton!

The feeling on the skin is very comfortable and makes you immediatly feel good in your shirt. Also, I love that it doesn’t wrinkle much after washing! As I never iron anything, this is a huge plus for me!

So far I have only seen kapok shirts in the ThokkThokk online shop, but maybe you have heard of other labels producing kapok pieces!? I would love to know, so make sure to share with me, if you have heard of any!

At ThokkThokk you can get the shirts that we are wearing in three different colors (black, dark blue, and light green) and even though they are little more expensive than other fair fashion shirts, I think it is worth investing in one… not only because they really have a stable fit and therefore will last you a very long time, but also to support the introduction of “new” sustainable fibers. We all know that even organic cotton is costing us way too much water and that it isn’t always the best option. With all the challenges in our world right now, we have to think into new directions and try our best to find sustainable options and alternatives. So why not promoting and supporting kapok :)!?

Now, I would love to know if you have heard of kapok before and what’s your take on this sustainable fiber!? Feel free to leave a comment or message me 🙂

This blog post contains names of/pictures of/weblinks to brands and hence, is perceived advertisement. I was not paid for the post and all opinion is my own.


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6 Kommentare

  1. August 27, 2019 / 8:35 pm

    Cool! Thanks for educating me on this. I’d never heard of this material before.

  2. Juni 23, 2020 / 1:06 pm

    nice – im a indian designer – new learning for me and i found a yarn source too near me and let me try this production and support sustainability.