Balancing Science and Beauty to Develop Our Silk Sun Protection

Fashion brings beauty and allows us to express ourselves as individuals. However, clothing exists for function. We need to constantly balance these two elements to design with purpose, something that helps you live better and more sustainable lives. Our problem statement for our latest collection started with the impact of climate change.

The last decade,has been the warmest on record and since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one[1]. UV radiation also continues to need to be balanced as it causes sunburn and cancer, but it is also responsible for Vitamin D synthesis required for bone health and disease prevention in humans[2].

Mulberry Silk: The Perfect Fabric for Hot Weather

Mulberry silk is wonderful for the hot weather; it is moisturizing, breathable, and has anti-bacterial properties. But after all these years, mulberry silk is considered fragile when in fact it is one of the strongest and most durable fabrics and is therefore, perfect for rougher wear even in the outdoors. Its downside is its absence of UV protection...

Silkinc's Solution: Innovating with Mulberry Silk

Which leads us to ask, what can Silkinc do about this? Mulberry silk is 100% protein fiber, just like human skin. It cannot be exposed to the sun for long periods of time or it would be like a sunburn and it shows the effects of this by turning yellow (if only that was the only impact on our skin too!). However, the alternatives for sun protection clothing currently available are often purely functional, include chemicals which increases the feeling of heat and can also be toxic for your skin.

So, we asked ourselves a question, why can’t we take the naturally light and breathable properties of silk and innovate with this to add sun protection? With this challenge, we set foot on the journey of fabric innovation in 2022…

Silkinc sun protection jacket, woman jumping

Challenge #1: create a blended silk that can be machine washed

This fiber needed to be bio-based, strong, high in moisture absorption and smooth like silk.(Fun fact: the higher the moisture return rate, the more comfortable the fiber. Silk has almost the highest moisture recovery rate of any fiber.)

We actively engaged with fiber experts in the industry and Dr. Xiao, an expert in the bio-based industry, came to us with his ECOLNOE corn-based fiber. After many tests, we found that this met all our needs, and we took forward our collaboration. Ingredient problem solved!

Challenge #2: weaving and balancing the two fibers together whilst preserving the benefits of both

With the help of Dr. Xiao and the silk experts at the Silk Institute Fabric Lab, we developed a spiraling structure that uses the corn-based fibers to protect the mulberry silk, which in turn protects our skin. At the same time, the spiral structure preserves the shine of mulberry silk.

We conducted hundreds of tests to optimize the balance of the following factors:

  1. Softness
  2. Breathability
  3. Moisture absorption
  4. Natural coolness
  5. Degree of toughness
  6. Degree of luster

    We finally landed on a 37% silk and 67% corn-based nylon blend.

    Silkinc sun protection jacket, woman looking into distance

    Challenge #3: add strong sun protection

    Most sun protection clothing in the market has simply added a layer of sunscreen coating which in fact is heavy and limits the breathability of the fabric. So we innovated to see how we could incorporate the protection within the silk (which has natural anti-UV properties such as tryptophan and tyrosine) rather than on top of it. We have developed a patented silk yarn incorporating sunscreen technology with a third party tested UPF rating of 50+. This blocks 98% of harmful rays from the sun[3].

    Challenge #4: in summer, we want our skin to feel free

    In the development process, we tested five different weights ranging from 11 - 22 momme and seeing how thin we could go whilst maintaining the durability of the fabric. Ensuring that our final product maintained the best lightness, breathability and durability against at least 50 machine washes, we landed on 16 momme.

    Challenge #5: practical clothing that is beautiful

    Beauty is in the eye of beholder and we wanted to make sure that you loved the design as much as we did. We had 8 focus groups, 12 draft designs and 15 colors tested. This allowed us to come up with our final design and options available:

    • cropped and zipped up style - cool and not blocking beautiful clothes worn underneath
    • retro design - keeping it classic to maintain its versatility
    • focusing on the details with:
      1. a wide, foldable brim that blocks the light from your face
      2. a drawstring to adjust the size of the hood according to your head shape
      3. a world record zipper that has a design even lighter than the zipper on most baby clothing
      4. loose cuffs provide better protection from the sun (tighter fabrics tend to stretch and lose their sun protection)
      5. bright and beautiful colors that reflect the sun

    With four colors to choose, moon white, sweet and lively shades of pink, bold black and white, and light blue, which one is your favorite?

    Introducing Our Sun Protection Collection

    Our sun protection collection is a harmonious blend of style, function, and sustainability. Made with our innovative silk blend, these garments are designed to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays while keeping you cool and comfortable. 

      Silkinc sun protection jacket, flying in the sky

      Join the Silkinc revolution for Better Sun Protection

      At Silkinc, we believe in constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation to create better solutions for our customers. Skin protection is truly important to us as one in three cancers diagnosed is skin cancer[4], many cases preventable through limiting exposure to UV light. Let us love our skin and bodies, balancing sun protection with beauty.

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