A Quick History of Modal

Diego Barberi White Edition, $65.25

Even though the fabric has been in production for about 50 years and has long since spread to the designer underwear industry, it is still surprising to note how many different brands have adopted the natural, eco-friendly cotton alternative: Modal.

“Modal Viscose gives the fabric a very soft luxury [feel],”  Greg Sovell, co-founder and designer of C-in2 told The Underwear Expert.  He uses a Modal blend in many of his products: “Modal, singularly, has a tendency to be a bit too slinky for men’s.  At C-in2 I prefer to mix Modal Viscose fiber with cotton fiber for the best of both worlds.” Blended or on it’s own, modal offers an unmistakably luxurious feel.

Since it uses from 10 to 20 times less water than cotton to cultivate, Modal has emerged as a strong alternative fabric — a position strengthened by the fact that it’s completely natural.  It’s made from the fibers of the beech tree, which grows in forests across the Northern Hemisphere. Beech trees, by the way, have been used for much more than firewood since ancient times: the word “book” even comes from the Old English word for “beech tree.”

So where’s it come from, you ask? The Austrian company Lenzing AG invented Modal in the 1960s and has led the way in its development ever since. They currently boast a modal production facility where cellulose is extracted from beech pulp to be spun into fiber, while almost all the chemical byproducts are recycled, adding to Modal’s green credentials.

But all that would be irrelevant if it weren’t being used by top brands to make soft, luxurious and sexy products. Luckily, that is precisely what has been happening. Take a look at a few of ways to wrap yourself in Modal.

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