Yes, modal fabric is vegan. Modal is a type of rayon, a fabric made from plant cellulose. It is cruelty-free, does not use animal-derived materials, and can be used as part of a vegan lifestyle.
Modal is classified as a ‘semi-synthetic’ fabric. Although it is made from organic materials, the production process relies heavily on chemicals, and the process is not entirely sustainable. For this reason, some vegans choose not to use modal in preference of more sustainable fabrics.
What Is Modal?
Modal is a semi-synthetic fiber manufactured from cellulose (wood pulp) from fast-growing trees and bamboo. It is a cotton alternative that is absorbent and breathable, with a silky smooth touch. It is used for a wide range of clothing, including activewear, pajamas, and underwear, and is also used for bedsheets.
It is 50% more water-absorbent per unit volume than cotton. Modal has similar properties as other cellulose fibers, and it is designed to absorb dye and keep the colors, with high resistance to shrinking when it is washed in warm water. Modal rayon is a popular fiber because it can be created cheaply.
How Is Modal Made?
Modal is a rayon fabric that has been made using the modal process. This involves pulping wood fibers into liquid form, chemically treating them, and then pulling the liquid through tiny holes to create the fabric. There are other methods of creating rayon (e.g., viscose and lyocell), which use slightly different techniques and chemicals to create similar fabrics.
Is Modal Sustainable?
Although modal is entirely biodegradable and marketed as sustainable and ethical, the chemical processing of creating it has been linked to chemical spillages, deforestation, and damage to habitats. The modal process is not normally a closed-loop – which means some chemicals leak out in wastewater. If this is an issue you care about, modal fabric made in North America or Europe is typically made more sustainably than that made in China or Indonesia.
Verdict: Should Vegans Buy Modal?
Modal can be used as part of a vegan lifestyle, and as a fabric it has made advantages – it is breathable, water-absorbent, durable, and biodegradable. However, it may not be suitable for those who want to go a step further and only use sustainable materials.
If you do want to buy modal, we recommend choosing a brand with a transparent production process to ensure they are making ethical production choices. Alternatively, lyocell is a rayon fabric with very similar properties and a more sustainable production process, and organic cotton is also a good choice.