Fabric Plants

I've always believed that clothing is a great way to tell your story

- Carson Kressley

The clothing industry is a global industry that effects individuals all over the world. Cities all over the world have been labeled "fashion capitals" and are nationally known for their contribution to the fashion industry. In 2010 the U.S average family spent approximately $1,700 on clothing items per year. However, America is not the only country that spends a substantial amount of money on clothing. Throughout history, cultures all over the world started utilizing plants for food and other essential resources. Once discovered the unique properties plants had they were able to create that became essential for different aspects of life.

The Flax Plant is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world! This plant is used to make the fabric linen. This cultivation process started in Egypt around 8,000 B.C. During this time the Egyptians, one of the first clothing makers, decided to create clothing to differentiate certain individuals in the population. The men of Egypt wore skirts that stayed in place with a belt. Each male member had skirts that varied significantly in length depending on what kingdom and time period they were located in. The females of the Nile wore very similar garments in the form of dresses. At first the dresses were simple and were either strapless or one shouldered. As the production ofegypt linen.jpg linen became more skilled, the women were able to pleat and drape their dresses however they liked.

The type of socioeconomic status you were in also dictated what kind of linen you wore. Workers or laborers wore loin clothes made of linen in addition to animal hides. Only the highest of the land were able to wear pure white garments made of linen. In addition, these garments were almost see-through.[1]

The Egyptians passed on this type of fabric to different countries all over the world. Today in the US linen is primarily used for tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and other novelty items. This is due to the rising cost in linen opposed to cotton and the high quality of its product!

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The White Mulberry One of the most famous uses of the white mulberry is in the production of silk. The leaves of the white mulberry, in particular, are the preferred feed for the silkworms responsible for making silk. The Bombyx Mori, which means "mulberry silk tree caterpillar" is special because it produces some of the finest silk due to its exclusively mulberry leaf diet. These special silkworms cannot see or fly, meaning they live only to continually lay eggs. Sericulture began more than 4000 years ago in China and since then has been a lucrative industry for fabric and fashion. For over thirty centuries, the Chinese kept the production of silk secret and monopolized the silk trade as well as the cultivation of the white mulberry. This secret was protected on penalty of death until foreigners were able to learn the practice of sericulture and the importance of the white mulberry tree.

With the exportation of both the product and the method of production, silk became a world-wide status symbol for the wealthy. Today it continues to be a coveted fabric in haute couture fashion. For example, a single scarf from a high fashion label can go for up to $400 and possibly more.

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The Cotton Plant
Cotton fruit
Cotton (also known by it's genus, Gossypium) is a soft, fluffy fiber that is considered a shrub, and belongs to the Malvaceae family. It is native to the subtropical region of the Old and New world, but today, it can be found in China, India, the USA (with Texas and California as the states producing the most cotton in the US), Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Australia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Greece to name a few of the top producing countries in the world. Cotton is the primary natural fiber used by humans today, but is also useful to animals, as it is used as a main source of protein in animal feed. It is used to make various different textile products, and is found in many of our clothes that we wear today. Without cotton, our economy (and the world economy for that matter) would plummet, and we would not be able to wear many of the clothes we wear today.

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Hemp fabric is made from the stems of the Cannabis sativa plant. The natural geographic distribution of Hemp is indigenous to South and Central Asia. Records of the plant go back more than 10,000 years when it was being cultivated in Taiwan. Only since 1930 was Hemp being cultivated no for its drug usages, but for its strong fibers. Because of its economic benefits, Hemp is cultivated on farms in U.S.A., Canada, The United Kingdom, Russia, France, and Australia.


  1. ^ http://www.dragonstrike.com/egypt/cloth.htm