What Is Modal Silk? Uncovering Everything About Modal Silk Fabrics

Have you ever been confused by the term “modal silk”? Is it a blended fabric or a special type of silk? Admittedly, modal silk is a new fabric with great potential, but its publicity and promotion contain much confusion and overstatement.

Here comes this post! We will break down everything you need to know about modal silk fabric and debunk some myths about it.

modal silk fabric

What Is Modal Silk?

Moda silk refers to a type of artificial silk made of 100% regenerated cellulose. It is an innovative and promoted version of modal fabrics, with finer modal fibers used in tighter weaving. That being so, modal silk assumes properties closer to silk than modal fabrics. It resembles silk in appearance, texture and breathability, offering a sense of luxury and elegance.

However, this term has a fun history and was used for a different meaning decades ago.

The History of Modal and Modal Silk

Over 200 years ago, the rarity and high price of silk drove the debut of regenerated cellulose fabrics. In the 1940s to 1950s, Japan first produced a type of regenerated cellulose able to retain its structure and shape in water for a longer time than existing ones, toramomen. Based on this success, viscose rayon was improved in the 1960s and the new one was named “hochmodul 333”. 

This awkward-sounding German term evolved into “High-Wet-Modal” afterward and this special type of regenerated cellulose strong when wet was registered a trademark, “modal”. As an alternative to natural silk, the modal fabric was called “artificial silk” or “modal silk”. Thus, “modal silk” at that time just referred to normal modal fabrics, bearing an undeserved name. 

In the 1990s, full-fledged micro-technology was employed in the manufacture of modal fabrics, making the finished products softer, smoother and glossier. It was the origin that the modal silk started to accord with its name. 

Myths of Modal Silk: A Publicity Stunt

Until now, the modal silk in the market is still in chaos and disorder, some even frauds. Born for a relatively short time, there is no global standard for the micro-technique of modal fibers and no formal criteria for modal silk. 

Myth One: Real Modal Silk? Maybe not.

With no formal regulations, fabrics labeled “modal silk” available in the market now may be mediocre modal rayon. What’s worse, they might even be inferior products not measured up to the standards of modal fabrics.

Myth Two: A Future Fabric Substituting Natural Silk

The modal silk has been bragged that it may take the place of silk one day. However, it is impossible to come true. Let us divide this opinion into two parts.

First, the market’s need for silk has been surging. In the early twentieth, the American textile industry proposed to rename cellulose fabric. They either wanted to name it viscose (to distinguish theirs from Europe’s) or artificial fabric – They believed the term “artificial fabric” showed a disrespect for natural silk fabrics. Otherwise in heated pursuit in the past, customers are more keen on silk now for its natural essence. 

Second,  the capacity of silk fibers has been posing less obstacle to the mass market of silk fabrics. In the 1920s, data proved that the new cellulose fabric could only establish a place of itself in the market, with the increasing output of natural silk. It was the case one hundred years ago, let alone in modern society, where the manufacturing of silk fibers gets more sophisticated. 

Myth Three: Better Softness and Sustainability than Silk?

Modal silk’s merits are exaggerated and overblown. 

For example, modal silk fabrics are hyped as an animal-friendly alternative to silk that sacrifices little in texture and appearance. But, the truth is that modal silk fabrics in the market vary in quality, as well as in texture and appearance. Additionally, many customers give feedback that they are not in line with silk in details.

For another, the sustainability of modal silk is also overstated, even the premium one. Though the micro-technologies of Lenzing are certificated to be completely environmental and sustainable, modal silk is not peculiar to Austrian now.  Many countries of bulk fabric manufacture, participate in this industry to get a piece of the pie – No one can ensure that modal silk fabrics are absolutely compostable now. 

In a word, deliberate on buying modal silk, especially for those who abandon the usage of natural silk for it is less friendly to silkworms, or want to select a cheaper substitute. 

The Best Modal Silk Commercially Available: Micromodal

For your better discrimination on modal silk, here is an introduction to the best one in the market, micromodal from Lenzing Group. 

What Is Micromodal Fabric?

Micromodal Fabric

The micromodal fabric is a semi-synthetic fabric made of hardwood pulps. It assumes unparalleled softness and gloss,  finding various applications such as activewear and underwear. 

As the magnate within the modal industry, Lenzing develops a series of micromodal fabrics, such as MicroModal Edelweiss and MicroModal Air. Their recent products again pioneer the whole market, what stands them out is their non-toxic and non-polluted production. 

Besides, other manufacturers are capable of making modal fabrics of finer yarns and tighter weaving now. They produce a substantial number of modal silk fabrics available in the market. Some of them on Lenzing’s heels,  produce fabrics of high quality and excellent sustainability. 

How Is Micromodal Made?

As micromodal is an updated version of the modal, its manufacture has much in common with the traditional production of the modal. 

Micromodal’s raw material is garnered from beech trees, sometimes oak and birch. After being rendered into wood pulp, they get extracted for purified cellulose. 

Then the cellulose is subjected to complex treatments to be prepared to make weavable fibers.   

To get finer fibers, cellulose should be more tenacious. So the formula of chemical substances is slightly different from that for modal fabrics. 

Later, the cellulose solution is transfused into a spinneret with smaller holes. The slender fibers will be meticulously woven into a tight and silk-like structure – to make the woven fabric’s softness and gloss on par with silk. 

Advantages of Modal Silk Fabrics Compared to Cotton and Silk

Revered as an eximious alternative to both silk and cotton, modal silk possesses properties similar to them. Furthermore, modal silk has some unique edges.

Modal Silk VS Cotton

  • It has incredible softness comparable to the finest combed cotton. 
  • It is more resistant to wrinkles.
  • It performs better in absorbency and breathability.
  • Its raw material takes less water and energy. And cotton plants need more chemical additives. 
  • Its cost is higher. 

Modal Silk VS Silk

  • It has better resilience and stretchability.
  • It is more affordable than silk.
  • Its production is more concise and rapid.
  • It is free of animal cruelty.

Disadvantages of Modal Silk

  • Though modal silk is natural by its material, it passes through chemical treatments.
  • It requires relatively delicate maintenance.
  • A standard system has not yet been established for this fabric, so it is more difficult to procure high-quality ones. 


Is Modal Silk Pure Silk? 

Absolutely no. Technically, modal silk is a 100% cellulose fabric. But now many use “modal silk” to refer to silk & modal blends, thus mixed silk. Anyway, modal silk is not pure silk. 

Is Modal Silk Good?

It depends. For example, modal silk is good in functionality and aesthetics compared to synthetic fabrics. But it is less durable and costs more than synthetic ones. 

Does Modal Silk Shrink?

With its strong strength in water, the modal silk has a good ability to retain its shape when wet. Its shrinkage is lower than viscose rayon and some natural fabrics.

What Is Silk Modal Fabric?

Silk modal usually refers to the blended fabric or mixture of silk and modal.Unlike modal silk, silk modal must contain silk fibers at a certain proportion. 

Is Modal Silk Vegan?

Yes, it is. It is made of plant-based material and contains no animal cruelty during production. 

Modal Silk VS Modal

The main difference between these two fabrics is that modal silk is woven by finer yarns and in a tighter construction. Modal silk is a type of refined modal fabric that targets luxury silk. So it is softer and smoother than modal fabrics. Its delicate fibers also reflect light better – making its sheen more appealing. 

Final Thoughts

As a newborn one, modal silk is waiting for regulation for its production and promotion for a larger market. Committed to making customers enjoy fibers, Sinosilk is doing its own part in optimizing the industry environment. We provide on-top fabrics, including 100% natural silk fabrics, silk blends and sustainable regenerated fabrics.  Our fabrics have a wide range, superior properties and various applications. Please send an inquiry to get more details and we will never let you down. 

More Resources

What is silk?– Source: Sinosilk

What is modal fabric? – Source: Sinosilk

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