Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarong Fabrics: Rayon, Cotton, Polyester or Silk: PART 1 RAYON

We know that having a breathable sarong or clothing fabric in the hotter temperatures is very important. We couldn't agree more. You want to feel relaxed and comfortable in your sarong and clothes from 1 World Sarongs. So let's take a look at our sarong fabric options.

What are the fabric choices for sarongs you may ask? Sarongs come in basically four different fabrics; rayon sarongs, cotton sarongs, polyester sarongs and silk sarongs. We often hear the question, "What is the difference between a rayon sarong, cotton sarong, polyester sarong or a silk sarong?". Before I answer, let me give you a little background about 1 World Sarongs. We are proud to be the #1 supplier of sarongs on the internet. We've had the pleasure of adorning tens of thousands of customers with our beautiful sarongs and clothing over the last ten years while maintaining a 99.9% customer satisfaction rating. We've sold hundreds of thousands of sarongs around the globe; from Papua New Guinea to Puerto Rico, from Hawaii to Mexico. We've shipped our sarongs and clothing pretty much everywhere in the world. Even Alaska! Why would you need a sarong in Alaska is a question we are still trying to figure out?

First, let's take a look at the most popular sarong fabric today, "rayon". Rayon was the first man made fabric invented back in the late 1800's and since has quickly become one of the most popular and versatile fabrics in the world today. Its lasting popularity is due to six main characteristics; touch-ability, breath-ability, drape-ability, dye-ability, durability and cost-ability. Currently, rayon is produced all over the planet from Germany to China and comes from various sources in a variety of forms. For our purpose we are focusing on the rayon made from cellulostic materials or in simple terms “plants and trees”. That's because the vast number of sarongs that are produced in the world are made in Indonesia (population 300 million), where rayon is easily acquired (usually from India).
Sample of Rayon fabric view up close 
It's also where sarongs are the most universal form of clothing and utilized as an all around garment by both men, women and children. Traditionally, Indonesians wore cotton sarongs over the last few centuries. Especially since cotton was grown in Indonesia and it was long lasting and durable. However, with the since rayon has become more available in the market it has become the first choice when manufacturing sarongs and clothing (although most of the higher end batik and machine print batik patterned sarongs are still made from either cotton or silk). Rayon sarongs are less expensive than cotton or silk sarongs, thus making them more attractive for local markets as well as export to overseas destinations. You can find rayon sarongs anywhere from Jamaica to Hawaii, and most are made in Indonesia. But the real reason is that rayon is an amazing fabric that is extremely breathable, has a flowey drape and is durable. Making the perfect fabric for sarongs and summer clothing. Let's listen to what Dr. Smith has to say.

According to Joyce A. Smith Ph.D. at the Ohio State University (see attached document pg 2) …"Rayon's cellulosic base contributes many properties similar to those of cotton or other natural cellulosic fibers. Rayon is moisture absorbent (more so than cotton), breathable, comfortable to wear, and easily dyed in vivid colors. It does not build up static electricity, nor will it pill unless the fabric is made from short, low-twist yarns. Rayon is comfortable, soft to the skin, and has moderate dry strength and abrasion resistance." (

On a more personal note, I've worn rayon sarongs many times in Indonesia and here in the States. I can tell you that rayon is really comfortable and surprisingly breathable. You won't want to put anything else on but your rayon sarong when staying in the hot temps. Especially after coming out of the pool or after a cool shower. Rayon sarongs are extremely nice to wear. Make sure to go for the #1 heavy weight rayon or the "Pertama" collection as we call it. These Pertama sarongs are really smooth to the touch and top quality.

On an environmental note…one of the biggest rayon manufacturers is making rayon more green by recycling the chemicals it uses to make the rayon and using fast growing and renewable resources:

Watch this YouTube video:

An interesting quote about the impact of Lenzing's rayon on the environment:
"Rayon, modal and lyocell are produced from renewable cellulosic plants such as beech trees, pine trees and bamboo. All three fibers are biodegradable. Specifically, Lenzing Viscose and Lenzing Modal are produced from sustainably harvested beech trees and Tencel from sustainably harvested eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus grows quickly and without irrigation, pesticides, fertilizers or genetic manipulation; it can also be planted on marginal land that cannot be used for food crops. The fiber yield per acre from the trees used in the Lenzing fibers is up to ten times higher than that of cotton. Also, cotton needs up to 20 times more water."

Ultimately, the environmental impact has a lot to do with how we wash our sarongs and clothing. How much water we use, the amount of detergent and the amount of fabric softeners etc.
I think we can say that rayon is a great fabric for sarongs or any clothing for the hotter temps. It is breathable, silky and durable. We've had some of our sarongs over 10 years and they are in great condition with the colors still bright and vivid.

Some people believe cotton is a more breathable fabric than rayon and that rayon feels more like a polyester plastic fabric… but that is far from the truth. In part 2 of Sarongs from Rayon, Cotton, Poly or Silk we'll explore cotton as a fabric choice for sarongs.

By the way I have a picture of me wearing a sarong at Uluwatu temple on the beautiful island of Bali. That day was pretty windy but we had a great time just walking around. The other picture is of me getting a lesson in how to tie a sarong from a local Balinese shop clerk up in Ubud. That was fun!
Ok, up next … Cotton Sarongs.

1 World Sarongs

1 World Sarongs

Check out our huge selection of Rayon Sarongs at