What is Modal? Discover the magic behind the luxuriously soft fabric

By Nikki Michelsen

Nov 4, 2022

What is Modal? Discover the magic behind the luxuriously soft fabric
When we first started designing our collection of period pants, we knew that we wanted to create the most comfortable pair of period pants on the market. We wanted to design a pair of knickers that you were actually excited to wear, a pair that felt absolutely fantastic and looked just as good. Our OG Collection brought this vision to life (just ask our testing models: they all insisted on wearing their period pants as everyday underwear).
The first step in nailing the comfort of our designs was, of course, selecting the perfect material. Once we laid our hands on modal — and later learned of its respected status as a sustainable fibre — we knew we had found the one. We were in textile love. If this is your first time hearing about modal, or you're just curious to learn more about this dreamy material, we compiled a quick run-down of all the most important details below.

first thing's first: what exactly is modal?

Modal is a vegan, bio-based fiber made from the pulp of beech trees. Boasting ultra breathability and a silky soft feel, it's become a hugely popular fabric for underwear, activewear, pajamas, bath robes and bed sheets (basically anything where comfort reigns supreme). It's also well-known for ranking high in sustainability, with many brands eschewing viscose for eco-friendlier modal instead.

how is modal manufactured?

A quick bit of trivia: Modal is a relatively new fabric that was first developed in Japan in 1951 as an alternative to silk. It's made from deconstructing the pulp of beech trees into a purified liquid cellulose, which is then rapidly spun into silky modal fibres. The production is similar to that of viscose rayon, minus the wasteful by-products and extreme water usage.

is modal a sustainable fabric?

Absolutely, the sustainability of modal has made it a cult-favourite fabric among eco-conscious brands and designers. modal is touted as a much eco-friendlier option to cotton and other types of rayon for a few reasons. for starters, it's completely biodegradable and compostable. secondly, the production of modal uses significantly less resources than cotton — 20x less water overall — while producing yields up to 10x as high as cotton.
With that said, it's super important to work with a manufacturer who strictly abides by sustainable practices. as modal is created from tree fibres, knowing how and where the beech trees are planted is essential to sourcing an eco-friendly fabric.

what does modal feel like?

Like an absolute dream. modal's luxuriously soft, buttery smooth texture has made it the go-to fabric for intimate wear and comfortable clothing. It's often compared to silk, but with breathability and absorbency (it's 50% more absorbent than cotton!), meaning you'll never feel sweaty or sticky while sporting modal clothing. In summary: it feels like slipping into a weightless, silky cloud.

what are the benefits of modal?

In the world of fabrics, modal is a bit of an overachiever. Its benefits include:
  • ultra breathable and light
  • luxuriously soft
  • durable due to the long fibres and tight weave
  • doesn't pill
  • doesn't retain odour
  • shrink-proof
  • wrinkle-resistant
  • completely biodegradable
  • produced sustainably
  • stretchy and flexible, so it naturally contours to your shape
  • retains colour (you don't need another pair of worn, faded knickers)

    how do you take care of modal?

    When it comes to caring for your modal clothing, the most important thing to remember is to avoid heat. modal is an incredibly long-lasting material, but the surest way to sabotage its longevity is by washing on high heat or ironing. Modal likes to keep it v cool.
    When it comes to our period pants specifically, here's what we recommend: rinse in cool water after use then wash on a cool, delicate cycle (about 30°) with similar colours. Avoid using softener and bleach, soaking for extended periods and ironing. To protect the gusset and extend the longevity of your pair, it’s best to hang dry only. Too many spins in the tumble dryer will cause the protective gusset layers to start breaking down with heat.

    There you have it: the magic of modal and the secret to why our period pants feel so damn comfortable (well, one of the secrets). We can't wait for you to slip on a pair and let us know what you think. A better period is coming your way.
    Ohne Team
    Image credit: ohne