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Modal Madness

By Rae Avery

Modal has been deemed a wonder fabric that has the entire underwear industry abuzz and seems poised to replace even cotton as the most preferred choice for undergarments, but what is it really? Where does it come from, and what difference does it make to the finished product? Do all those companies that put “modal” in their radio advertisements provide the exact same material product? Will I stop asking leading questions and start answering them?

Invented in the 1960's, modal is a semi-synthetic manufactured fiber that boasts supreme softness and a smooth, luxurious feel to the touch. It all starts with beech trees, a tree with vibrant green leaves, which grow in rich, well-drained soil, and are most often found in the southern and eastern parts of the United States, as well as northern areas of Asia and Europe. Once the beech tree is reduced to pulp, the cellulose fibers are removed, and then reconstructed and spun, creating modal cloth. The increase in the quality of modal fabric starts at the source, even before manufacturing, which speaks volumes of just how much better it actually is. 

An eco-friendly material, modal uses 10 to 20 times less water to create than cotton, and because it is derived from beech trees, which are plentiful, it is a highly sustainable product. Modal is ideal for undergarments because it is so breathable, and unlike cotton, has a high resistance to shrinkage. Modal is also far more water-absorbent than cotton – 50% more, in fact. In a society that is becoming more and more environmentally conscious, modal fabric is all the more attractive as an alternative to cotton.

Modal is cool to the touch, and holds a beautiful drape. It also resists wrinkles, creasing, and is less likely to form pills on the surface of the cloth over time. In addition, the luxurious feel of the material actually contributes to its longevity as a garment. According to, “the smoothness of the fabric also makes hard water deposits less likely to adhere to the surface, so it stays soft through repeated washings.” Speaking of washings, modal can be washed in any temperature water, so garments made with it are some of the most easy to care for. If you are the kind of person who goes that extra mile to make sure you are treating your garments correctly, this is great news. However, an amazing pair of underwear needs to look good too, and unbelievably, modal has that covered as well. Modal has a special quality deep in the fiber that resists fading, so colors stay naturally bright and vibrant.

Knowing this, it’s no wonder that underwear advertisers are falling over themselves to claim to have a modal fabric product. But what does that really mean about the quality of their clothing? Being merely modal is good enough for plenty marketing departments, but with technology nearly a half-century old, it isn’t good enough for top-of-the-line products. Like many fabrics, modal can be paired with other materials, but results vary.

With Comfortable Club undies, a ton of testing and research went into the finished product, on both a scientific level and a “people” level. It’s one thing to have your products technically be made of modal fabric, but all modal combinations are not created equally. Those “modal mad” clothing marketers are hoping consumers don’t realize this.  

Comfortable Club researchers analyzed over a hundred different fiber combinations, refusing to give up until they found the very best, even consulting with Japan's prestigious Kawabata Institute for uncompromising quality. Then they tested their findings (high performance underwear) on real people, making sure the fiber blend was the very best in terms of comfort, wear, and fit.

While many companies are eager to jump on the modal bandwagon, few actually use it to its fullest potential, and only use modal so that they can say that they are using it. They are using it as more of a statement of high quality, rather than actually providing that higher quality of fabric. Needless to say, not all companies who use modal are actually providing a superior product. Some of these companies who brag about using modal don’t even pronounce the word correctly. With, we appreciate all the benefits of modal, but we also realize that a great starting fabric isn’t a substitute for superior stitching, tested fabric blends, and of course, a super comfortable product. 


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