Glossary of Popular Textiles

Fabrics and textiles are a very important ‘ingredient’ in the making of a garment. These are made through methods of weaving, knitting, crocheting, or bonding; and are often used in the production of final products like fashion garments. While there exists several types of textiles out there, there are a few textiles that one can find most commonly used, whether by season or use of garment. Read on to gain a little insight on a few textiles that we use on a daily basis.

Cashmere

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Cashmere is a type of wool that is considered another one of the most luxurious and elegant textiles in the world. It is known for its absolute soft feel and most garment made out of this type of wool are thick and exhibit excellent insulation capabilities, making them ideal for cold weather conditions. It is obtained by combing the lower hairs of cashmere goats and originally comes in three variant colors- white, grey and brown; and these can be further dyed into any other color as required.

Fun Fact: To make one cashmere sweater, one would require cashmere wool from about 4 goats.

Cotton

Cotton is one of the most commonly used textiles in the world, and its use is dated back to over thousands of years ago. It is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll around the seeds of the cotton plant and is most often spun into yarn or thread. These are further utilized to create a soft textile which is also breathable, making it an ideal textile for the summer. Many other textiles like canvas, corduroy, denim, flannel and even velvet are made from cotton woven in different styles and with varying thicknesses.

Fun Fact: One bale of cotton can make over 200 pairs of blue jeans.

Denim

Denim is a material made from cotton and is often mixed with elastane to provide stretch. It has been around for several hundred years but in the 60’s they were seen as a sign of rebellion by the younger generation. Even protesting the right to wear jeans in school. The original color of jeans is produced from indigo dye. This is then sanded, ripped, bleached, stone washed, or acid washed to produce a wide range of effects that we see on jeans today. While set standard styles were created in the past, there are varying styles for our preference including bootcut, skinny and straight leg. Denim jeans can be found in wide range of prices; from mass produced affordable alternatives like those in Forever 21 to luxurious denim by brands like Calvin Klein. Denim is also used to make other pieces of clothing from jackets to skirts and shirts.

Fun Fact: In North America, a person owns an average of 7 pairs of jeans.

Linen

Linen is made from the fiber of flax and is totally biodegradable and recyclable. Its production too, is more cost effective and efficient in comparison to synthetic fabrics. Linen has the added advantage of durability making it longer lasting. In fact, a linen thread is 2x stronger than a cotton thread. It is also very comfortable to wear but is not as warm as wool. The most common characteristic associated with linen is the presence of ‘slubs’ or small knots that appear randomly along its length; this is found more in low quality linen.

Fun Fact: Linen is one of the world’s oldest fabrics; mummies have been found to have been wrapped in linen shrouds dating as far back as 4500 B.C.

Polyester

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Polyester is a synthetic textile which is durable and does not stretch, crease or shrink. It is water resistant and has the tendency to absorb color very well. While it is manufactured with naturally occurring as well as synthetic chemicals, it is a fabric that is widely demanded in the fast fashion industry. Some other advantages to this fabric include its easy care where the fabric can be washed at a maximum temperature of 40 degrees and dries quickly without wrinkling as much. The major disadvantage to this fabric however is the fact that it is not sustainable in its production stage. In recent times, many fashion brands are starting to use recycled polyester as an alternative to become environment friendly.

Fun Fact: Polyester is extremely versatile that depending on fiber fineness, fabric construction and finishing, its appearance can vary from matt to shiny, soft to coarse, wooly, fine, and stiff.

Silk

Silk is known as one of the most luxurious fabrics, and has been used widely within Chinese culture for over 5000 years. What makes this textile shimmery in appearance is the fiber’s triangular prism-like structure allowing the cloth to refract light at different angles. The sleek and luxurious feel of the textile makes the wearer feel like a million dollars and flatters every body shape. This textile is most commonly used in Asian countries like India. However, this textile can also be seen within the shows of Valentino, Diane von Furstenberg, Louis Vuitton and Sies Marjan (to name a few).

Fun Fact: A silk dress requires about 70 kg of mulberry tree leaves (which are eaten by the caterpillers).

Written by Maria James

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