If you take a closer look at the inside of your clothing, you will notice a label, which will indicate the content or material your garment is made of. As an example, you might own a polyester or cotton blend garment.
The little label on the inside of your clothing will also indicate care instructions and any additional information about the apparel.
It might surprise you to learn that the little white label on your clothing is a very telling piece of information regarding your garment.
However, to understand what you will read and eventually write on that label, you need to have a grasp on the main fibres used in the fashion industry.
Let’s begin with a basic understanding of fibres and their applications in clothing.
In the fashion industry, you have a world of materials available to you, so you should have an understanding of the basic fibre groups, so you can take advantage of your many selections.
The first group of fibres is natural fibres, which have become increasingly popular with the emergence of sustainable fashion.
Natural fibres were the very first fibres used thousands of years ago to make clothing.
These fibres are split into animal and plant fibres. An example of a natural fibre would be cotton or wool because these fibres come from natural sources.
The next group of fibres that you need to be familiar with are regenerated fibres, which were introduced in the late 19th century as an inexpensive solution to silk.
These fibres begin as a raw material known as cellulose and are then reformed or regenerated.
The most common regenerated fibres that you will see in the fashion industry are rayon and viscose.
However, acetate and triacetate are also popular fabrics and are used for their draping and soft handle.
This final group is another man-made fibre that is frequently used in the fashion industry, primarily to manufacture inexpensive clothing.
Synthetic fibres contain no plant or animal materials. In fact, these textiles are made entirely of chemicals, and they are also much stronger than natural and regenerated fibres.
In recent decades, the demand for polyester has doubled, making it the second most popular fibre textile next to cotton. This fibre is created from petroleum products and several other chemicals through a complex manufacturing process.
These synthetic fibres are also called polyamides and refer to a synthesised petrochemical. This textile is used in a variety of industries and was first introduced in the fashion industry for women’s hosiery before World War II.
Another big group of synthetic fibres is acrylics, which is made from mineral oil and other hydrocarbons. The manufacturing process in these textiles involves a variety of harmful chemicals so these materials are slowly being replaced for more sustainable fabrics.
Although these are the most commonly used fibres in the industry, several others will help you to create beautiful clothing designs. Here are a few of the more popular examples:
These substances are drawn from metals like silver, gold, and copper and are then deposited back into more brittle ones such as aluminium or iron. You might see these fibres in embroidery, braiding, or roping features.
Polymer fibres are a subset of man-made fibres and are made of synthetic chemicals. A popular example of a polymer would be spandex.
When you hear the term microfiber, it refers to a sub-denier fibre, which is a measurement based on weight and length. These are very fine fibres that are manufactured under special processes so they are dense, flexible, and soft.
Textile plant fibres are known as cellulose, and these usually include seed hairs, stems, or leaves. There is an expansive amount of plant fibres that are used in the fashion industry, some of which dominate the field. The following are a few of that you will see and work with the most:
When it comes to fabric, cotton rules the textile industry. This fibre is made of pure cellulose and is the world’s most largely used natural fibre.
This is one of the strongest vegetable products in nature and one of the first to ever be harvested and woven into textiles. Flax fibre is easy to cultivate and absorbs moisture well, which makes it easy to make fabrics for hot climates. One fabric example that comes from the flax plant is linen.
With the popularity of eco-friendly clothing and other sustainable materials, fibres like hemp, which is made from the Cannabis Sativa plant, grew very popular. Hemp is a long-lasting fibre and is over 25 times more durable than cotton. Many designers are using it to make cloth, canvas, and paper.
These strong threads are used throughout the world to create burlap sack cloths.
The second subset of natural fibres is animal fibres, which consist primarily of proteins from different animals. These can include hair, fur, silk, feathers, and even secretions. Once the fibres are extracted, they are manufactured and used to make some of the most popular designs in the fashion industry. Some of the most popular animal fibres include:
Surprisingly, silk is not a plant or a synthetic fibre, it is actually an animal textile, which is derived from silkworms. These fabrics have a sheen, are smooth to the touch and a quality fabric of choice for dress materials.
This type of fabric is preferred for winter apparel because the fabric is warm and soft to touch. The most common type of wool in the textile industry comes from merino sheep, but angora and alpaca wool are also used in high-end luxury fabrics.
You might recognise this fibre in luxury high-end apparel for its exceptionally soft feel. Cashmere is derived from the neck region of the fine-haired Cashmere goat.
The softest and finest fibres are found on Bactrian camels and are used to make sports coats and sweaters.
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