Soybean fiber was invented in 1937 by Henry Ford and was called soy wool. This unique fiber was used in car upholstery at that time, but the fiber became victim to the second world war and also the advent of new man-made fibers, which were cheaper to produce. The fiber was re-invented in 1998 and promoted as an eco-fiber in 2000. The fiber is complementary in blends with other fibers and is not generally used on its own. In blends with Cashmere or wool it improves hang and drape qualities, giving a superior luster to the product and helping to reduce rubbing/pilling. It is possible to use the fiber 100% in yarns.
Absorption properties are similar to cotton and so the fibre feels cool. Its ventilation is superior to that of cotton with a silk-like appearance. The fibre is anti-ultraviolet and therefore, retains dyed colours well and is superior to viscose and silk in this respect. It is stronger than wool, cotton and silk but not polyester. Main producer today is China.