Textile fibers can be divided into three categories: natural fibers, artificial fibers or synthetic fibers.
The artificial or synthetic mirofiber (polyester, polyamide) has appeared in the 1980's and is characterized by an internal diameter smaller than 9 micrometers. According to its function, it has many specific characteristics: a very soft touch, a great absorbent power, or breathable qualities.
Plant-based natural fibers are traditionally used in the production of underwear. Cotton is the most common one.
Cotton : plant-based fiber that surrounds the cotton plant seeds, it has been the most used textile fiber for thousand years. More than being economical, it has many qualities such as being soft, absorbent, air permeable, flexible and comfortable. It is also very healthy through contact with mucus membranes and hypoallergenic. It is very easy to wash-and-wear, and also very economical. However, it can shrink, flatten, be torn up, and it remains little insulating.
Bamboo : it has conquered the textile market for the last few years thanks to its natural qualities. Actually, fabric made from bamboo is silky, absorbent and antibacterial.
Linen : mostly cultivated for its fibers, linen is one of the rare vegetal fibers produced in Europe, mainly in France. Its characteristics are amazing: it is very absorbent, resistant and thin. It is an ideal fiber for summer clothes as it resists to the sun UV rays.
They are made by chemical treatment from natural raw materials. They were designed initially to imitate silk, remaining less expensive at the same time.
Modal : extracted from wood cellulose, modal is and remains soft and silky over time, even after several washings. It is absorbent and breathable and enhances underwear comfort. Micro modal is even thinner than modal.
Viscose : also named artificial silk or rayon, its properties are similar to the ones of cotton. It is little flexible and creases easily. It also has a high absorbent power and does not felt.
Cupro : it is a silky artificial fiber made from cellulose.
They are made by chemical process from synthetic materials. The first synthetic fiber to appear was nylon in 1938. Since then, many other synthetic fibers have been produced.
Elastane : also known under its commercial names Lycra and Spandex, the elastane fiber – which is extremely flexible - gets back to its initial shape after stretching. It is mixed with other fabrics like cotton in most underwear, especially when they are skin-tight.
Polyamide : it is a resistant, flexible and quite elastic fiber. The most famous polyamide fiber is nylon, also called Tactel.
Polyester : it is used in 70% of synthetic fibers under the commercial names Tergal or Dacron. It can be blended with cotton. It is mostly used for swimwear production.