Monday, February 9, 2009

Materials Through the Times...

The textiles used throughout our history have not only marked the times from which they were created, but have played a key role in the development of garments themselves. From the fluid ease of the draped clothing of the Greek Empire, to the mechanical innovations of Hussein Chalayan today, garments cannot be discussed, worn, or made without first dissecting the textiles from which they are born. Take a look at some of the major textiles that have created the market for fashion in the first place:

C A V E M A N  L E A T H E R

Leather was one of the first textiles used in the history of mankind... Before sewing was developed, man used their hunting skills and put those animal hides to use to keep them warm throughout those intense cold seasons. Though clothing was primarily animal derived in nature, the cavemen were skilled at using every part of the animal for some kind of use in their lives, not killing in vain.

G R E E K   W O O L

Greeks were notorious for their lightweight wools and the innovative ways in which they draped the fabric around their bodies to create fluid shapes. The Greeks did not condone sewing, as that was seen as Barbaric. Instead, they opted for the more cultured activities of spinning and weaving, and wee an instrumental nation in the development of wool manufacturing.

A N C I E N T  I N D I A N  C O T T O N 

The ancient Indian civilization were the first to produce cotton which is now a mainstay in wardrobe pieces. This fabric was imported to Egypt, Greece, and Rome, though used in numerous other ways. Cotton, along with wool and leather above are still going strong today.

C H I N E S E  S I L K

  The Chinese were
       pioneers in creating beautiful silk. After Europeans spent loads of money importing the fabric into their countries, they eventually found ways to import the silkworms themselves, thus saving much dinero.However, the quality of ancient Chinese silk will always remain superb.

1 9 3 0 s  R A Y O N

In the 1930s, rayon was developed as an alternative to silk. Synthetically made from wood, this fabric had the same weight and fluid properties of silk, without the cost. Rayon is still a common fabric today, though it doesn't seem to have the same feel as the much-sought-after-1930s-dresses. In fact, there has even been headway in the development of organic rayon made from bamboo fibers, which is unique of a synthetic fabric process.


Though polyester was first developed in the early 20th century, it did not become a common fabric for clothing until the 1960s. Many people associate the fabric with a sort of kitschy retro look, but polyester can be made in many different kinds of weights and feels. In fact, today it is actually becoming a sought after fabric, with all of the high-tech developments that have made it quite the interesting high-fashion choice. Yes, that's right, it is not uncommon to find polyester fabric in garments off the runway and sitting at Barney's.

E C O - F R I E N D L Y  F A B R I C S

With the care and concern over the environment today, and the eco-movement really branching into the mainstream, the fashion industry is finally starting to follow suit in the development and creation of eco-fabrics and sustainable garments. This, along with high-tech processes, are the predicted wave of the fashion future. Innovations have been made in the creation of peace silk, animal friendly wool, bamboo rayons and yarns, banana silk and yarn, and organics across the board. Much innovation is still needed, however, particularly in the realm of textile printing and dyeing. 

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