Clothes are not just necessities today; they have become an important part of our personality. In this age of fast fashion when people hardly repeat their clothes, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for our ancestors to make the first ever textile.
According to anthropologists, it was nearly 100,000 to 500,000 years ago that people first started wearing clothes. The first clothes were made from only organic and natural materials, but as the humanity progressed, synthetic clothes were produced, which changed the way humans dressed up. Let’s take a look at how textiles have evolved over the years and how it has affected our lives.
What is a textile?
The term, ‘textile’ derives its name from a Latin word - texere, which means ‘to weave’. So by definition, textile is any kind of woven, knitted or knotted cloth. There are some non-woven fabrics also that are made of fibers that have been bonded into a fabric, for example: felt. All the textiles are made from fibers or other materials such as thread or yarn. There are various categories of textiles available today, including - woven, knitted, crochet, knotted, tufted and even non- woven fabrics. Some other materials include - fiberglass, which are made from fibers dispersed in a matrix of another material. It would be better to call such materials – composite materials instead of textiles.
How and when was the first textile developed?
Studies suggest that weaving and spinning first began in ancient Egypt around 3400 B.C.
-The first textiles: They used loom for weaving one of the first textiles. From 2600 B.C. onwards, China started using silk for making delicate silk textiles. Later in Roman era, the choice of textile for European population was - wool, linen and leather. Most of the textiles used in the initial days was a product of home industry. People would produce textile to meet their own needs. But after the introduction of barter system, they started trading textiles for other goods. That’s how buying and selling of textiles started.
-Large scale production to meet growing demands: Then came the Middle Ages when broadcloth became immensely popular. The broadcloth industry was clustered particularly in northern France, Holland and Flanders. Broadcloth was very durable and long-lasting while requiring little care. The first industrial production of broadcloth started in Leiden. Industrialization lead to development of technology. Inventions like - flying shuttle and the spinning machine made cheap, mass production of the textile possible in the UK.
-Industrial production of textiles: After the introduction of mechanically driven looms, textile started being produced more cheaply and in much larger quantities. This was enough to meet the growing demands of the growing population. During the Industrial Revolution various technological inventions turned weaving industry into a processing industry.
-Introduction of synthetic fibres: Then came the synthetic fibres, which was introduced at the end of 19th century. The discovery of nylon and polyester in the 20th century revolutionized the world of textiles further. Synthetic fibres were cheaper and were quite easy to maintain. But, they came with a price. Synthetic materials were found to be allergenic to many people and caused many other health issues like asthma and even cancer. Today, although we have a variety of synthetic materials available but their harmful effects are widely known to people. They are again making a switch to organic clothing, which is natural, safe and environmental friendly. It is for this reason; Organic clothing is a popular choice of material for kids, youngsters and seniors.
How synthetic clothing started affecting our lives?
Some 50 years ago, our environment was much cleaner and people were a lot healthier. That’s because people ate healthy, lived a less stressful lifestyle and wore natural fibers, like cashmere, wool, cotton, silk and hemp. Today, synthetic and man-made materials have taken the centre stage. No doubt, these materials are cheap and easy to care for, but they have been costing a lot in terms of human health and environment:
- The first synthetic textile dye was produced by William Perkin in 1856, by oxidation of aniline. After that breakthrough, many scientists attempted to synthesize commercially useful dyes. But, medical professionals found that the workers involved in the manufacture of dyes developed a high incidence of bladder cancer. This finding shook the entire world and more researchers started studying the harmful effects of synthetic clothing materials.
- Despite the findings, even today, synthetic textiles are subjected to a variety of finishing processes to improve their specific properties. These finishing processes include the use of chemicals for softening, waterproofing and cross-linking. The chemicals contribute not just to high levels of water pollution and toxicity but also cause health issues in people.
- The synthetic materials are a big source of microplastic pollution. When we wash our synthetic clothes, small amounts of microplastic fibres (size less than 1mm) are released in water, causing serious damage to the aquatic system.
Why so many people prefer organic clothing today?
As the medical science progressed, the harmful effects of synthetic materials became known to even the common people. It is because of this reason a large number of people have started wearing organic clothing again. Everytime you visit an organic fashion store in India, you benefit yourself in the following ways:
- Synthetic clothing materials contain carcinogenic, allergenic or toxic chemical residues. These residues are very bad for health as they can cause allergies, respiratory problems and even cancer. Organic materials on the other hand are totally safe and free from such toxic materials
- It is better for the environment as during the production of organic textile materials, harmful chemicals are not used. Traditional farming methods are used instead that helps maintain the soil quality.
- During the manufacturing of organic clothes low impact dyes are used which are non-carcinogenic (non cancer causing) and biodegradable.
- Organic clothing materials are better crafted so they last longer.
The clothes we wear are like our second skin. We wear them 24/7, 365 days a year. So, why take chances by wearing synthetic clothing, laden with harmful chemicals when you can buy the most stylish organic fashion at Indian organic fashion stores? Organic clothing materials keep you safe and happy just like a good friend and last for years.
To buy the latest organic fashion, explore our clothing store today.Shop Now at COA!