The study of the HISTORY OF CLOTHING AND TEXTILES traces the
availability and use of textiles and other materials. At the same
time, the study also helps in tracing the development of technology
for the making of clothing over human history. The wearing of clothing
is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of most human
societies. It is not known when humans began wearing clothes but
anthropologists believe that animal skins and vegetation were adapted
into coverings as protection from cold, heat and rain, especially as
humans migrated to new climates.
Textiles can be felt or spun fibers made into yarn and subsequently netted , looped, knit or woven to make fabrics, which appeared in the Middle East during the late stone age . From the ancient times to the present day, methods of textile production have continually evolved, and the choices of textiles available have influenced how people carried their possessions, clothed themselves, and decorated their surroundings.
Sources available for the study of clothing and textiles include material remains discovered via archaeology ; representation of textiles and their manufacture in art; and documents concerning the manufacture, acquisition, use, and trade of fabrics, tools, and finished garments. Scholarship of textile history, especially its earlier stages, is part of material culture studies.
* 1 Prehistoric development
* 1.1 Early adoption of apparel
* 2 Ancient textiles and clothing
* 2.1 Ancient
* 3 Medieval clothing and textiles
* 3.1 Byzantium * 3.2 Early medieval Europe * 3.3 High middle ages and the rise of fashion
* 4 Renaissance and early modern period
* 4.1 Renaissance Europe * 4.2 Early Modern Europe
* 5 Mughal India * 6 Enlightenment and the Colonial period * 7 Industrial revolution * 8 Contemporary technology * 9 21st century * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Bibliography * 13 Further reading * 14 External links
Human timeline view • discuss • edit -10 — – -9 — – -8 — – -7 — – -6 — – -5 — – -4 — – -3 — – -2 — – -1 — – 0 — Human-like apes Nakalipithecus Ouranopithecus Sahelanthropus Orrorin Ardipithecus Australopithecus HOMO HABILIS HOMO ERECTUS NEANDERTHAL HOMO SAPIENS ← Earlier apes ← LCA-Gorilla separation ← Possibly bipedal ← LCA-Chimpanzee separation ← Earliest bipedal ← Earliest stone tools ← Earliest exit from Africa ← Earliest fire use ← Earliest in Europe ← Earliest cooking ← Earliest clothes ← Modern speech ← Modern humans
P l e i s t o c e n e P l i o c e n e M i o c e n e H
s Axis scale : millions of years ago . Also see: Life timeline and Nature timeline
The development of textile and clothing manufacture in prehistory has been the subject of a number of scholarly studies since the late 20th century. These sources have helped to provide a coherent history of these prehistoric developments. Evidence suggests that humans may have begun wearing clothing as far back as 100,000 to 500,000 years ago.
EARLY ADOPTION OF APPAREL
Genetic analysis suggests that the human body louse , which lives in clothing, may only have diverged from the head louse some 170,000 years ago, which supports evidence that humans began wearing clothing at around this time. These estimates predate the first known human exodus from Africa , although other hominid species who may have worn clothes – and shared these louse infestations – appear to have migrated earlier.
Sewing needles have been dated to at least 50,000 years ago (Denisova
The earliest dyed flax fibres have been found in a prehistoric cave in the Georgia and date back to 36,000 .
The 25,000 year old Venus Figurine " Venus of Lespugue ", found in southern France in the Pyrenees, depicts a cloth or twisted fibre skirt. Other figurines from western Europe were adorned with basket hats or caps, belts worn at the waist, and a strap of cloth that wrapped around the body right above the breast. Eastern European figurines wore belts, hung low on the hips and sometimes string skirts.
Archaeologists have discovered artifacts from the same period that appear to have been used in the textile arts: (5000 BC) net gauges, spindle needles and weaving sticks.
ANCIENT TEXTILES AND CLOTHING
The first actual textile, as opposed to skins sewn together, was
probably felt . Surviving examples of
Nålebinding , another early
textile method, date from 6500 BC. Our knowledge of ancient textiles
and clothing has expanded in the recent past thanks to modern
technological developments. Our knowledge of cultures varies greatly
with the climatic conditions to which archeological deposits are
exposed; the Middle East and the arid fringes of
From pre-history through the early middle ages, for most of Europe,
ANCIENT NEAR EAST
The earliest known woven textiles of the
We do not know what the people who constituted the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the earliest civilizations of the world actually wore. The cloth disintegrated and we have not been able to decipher the Indus script as of now. But historians and archaeologists have managed to piece together some bits of information from clues found in sculptures and figurines.
Terracotta figurines uncovered at Mehrgarh show the male figurine as wearing what is commonly interpreted to be a turban. Whereas female figurines are depicted with elaborate headgears and intricate hairstyles. In certain cases, these elaborate headgears have lead historians to attach a religious connotation to the figurines. Historians have attributed the elaborate headgears as a symbol of the mother Goddess.
One of the most important structures that have been recovered is that of the “Priest King” from the city of Mohenjodaro in present-day Pakistan. It is not only important because scholars have called it a representation of the assumed authority or head of the state but also because of what it is wearing. The Priest-King as it is called is depicted sitting in a very calm position wearing a shawl with floral patterns etched all over it. This has been the only sculpture to show some form of clothing in such explicit detail. It, however, does not provide any concrete proof to legitimize the history of clothing in the Harappan times. Harappans may even have used natural colours to dye their fabric. Research shows that indigo plantation was also prevalent.
The other important and probably one of its kind of sculpture is the dancing girl, also excavated from Mohenjodaro in present-day Pakistan. Even though she has no signs of clothing upon her, she wears these bangles in the entirety of her arm. B.B.Lal has managed draw parallels between the dancing girl and women today in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. He notices how contemporary women continue wearing those bangles even today. Harappans may not have left any evidence of what clothing or textiles they had at that time but they did leave remains of jewellery and beads in humongous amounts. For instance, the graves of Harappans have yielded various forms of jewellery such as neckpieces, bracelets, rings, head ornaments etc. Multiple beads of varying shapes and sizes have also been recovered. Various materials and metals such as gold, bronze, terra-cotta, fiance, shell etc were being used to craft the jewellery and the beads. Materials such as turquoise and lapis lazuli were even imported from outside regions. This also hints at the possibility of a long-distance trade that Harappans would have engaged in. The long slender carnelian beads were highly prized by the Harappans. They were also experts in the manufacture of microbeads which have been found in various locations from hearths and graves. These beads were extremely hard to work with and needed an extra amount of precision to be produced. A special drill has been found both at Lothal and Chanhudaro. Chanhudaro was a centre exclusively devoted to craft production.
Evidence exists for production of linen cloth in
Ancient Egypt in the
Neolithic period, c. 5500 BC. Cultivation of domesticated wild flax ,
probably an import from the
Spinning techniques included the drop spindle, hand-to-hand spinning, and rolling on the thigh; yarn was also spliced. A horizontal ground loom was used prior to the New Kingdom, when a vertical two-beam loom was introduced, probably from Asia.
Linen bandages were used in the burial custom of mummification , and art depicts Egyptian men wearing linen kilts and women in narrow dresses with various forms of shirts and jackets, often of sheer pleated fabric.
The earliest evidence of silk production in
Under the Shang Dynasty,
Han Chinese clothing or
Hanfu consisted of a
yi, a narrow-cuffed, knee-length tunic tied with a sash, and a narrow,
ankle-length skirt, called shang, worn with a bixi, a length of fabric
that reached the knees.
The earliest evidence of spinning in Thailand can be found at the
archaeological site of Tha Kae located in Central Thailand. Tha Kae
was inhabited during the end of the first millennium BC to the late
first millennium AD. Here, archaeologists discovered 90 fragments of
spindle whorl dated from 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD. And the
shape of these finds indicate the connections with south
The earliest evidence of weaving in
Next was the Yayoi period, during which rice cultivation was developed. This led to a shift from hunter-gatherer communities to agrarian societies which had a large impact on clothing. According to Chinese literature from that time period, clothing more appropriate to agriculture began to be worn. For example, unsewn fabric wrapper around the body and poncho-type garments with head-holes cut into them. This same literature also indicates that pink or scarlet makeup was worn but also that mannerisms between people of all ages and genders were not very different. However, this is debatable as there were probably cultural prejudices in the Chinese document. There is a common Japanese belief that the Yayoi time period was quite utopian before Chinese influence began to promote the use of clothing to indicate age and gender.
From 300 to 550 AD was the Yamato period, and here much of the
clothing style can be derived from the artifacts of the time. The tomb
statues (haniwa) especially tell us that the clothing style changed
from the ones according to the Chinese accounts from the previous age.
The statues are usually wearing a two piece outfit that has an upper
piece with a front opening and close-cut sleeves with loose trousers
for men and a pleated skirt for women.
The following periods were the Asuka (550 to 646 AD) and Nara (646 to
794 AD) when
CLASSICAL PERIOD OF THE PHILIPPINES
The classical Filipino clothing varied according to cost and current fashions and so indicated social standing. The basic garments were the Bahag and the tube skirt—what the Maranao call malong—or a light blanket wrapped around instead. But more prestigious clothes, lihin-lihin, were added for public appearances and especially on formal occasions—blouses and tunics , loose smocks with sleeves , capes, or ankle-length robes. The textiles of which they were made were similarly varied. In ascending order of value, they were abaca , abaca decorated with colored cotton thread , cotton , cotton decorated with silk thread, silk, imported printstuff, and an elegant abaca woven of selected fibers almost as thin as silk . In addition, Pigafetta mentioned both G-strings and skirts of bark cloth.
Untailored clothes, however had no particular names. Pandong, a lady's cloak , simply meant any natural covering, like the growth on banana trunk’s or a natal caul. In Panay , the word kurong, meaning curly hair, was applied to any short skirt or blouse; and some better ones made of imported chintz or calico were simply called by the name of the cloth itself, tabas. So, too, the wraparound skirt the Tagalogs called tapis was hardly considered a skirt at all: Visayans just called it habul (woven stuff) or halong (abaca ) or even hulun (sash ).
The usual male headdress was the pudong, a turban, though in Panay both men and women also wore a head cloth or bandana called saplung. Commoners wore pudong of rough abaca cloth wrapped around only a few turns so that it was more of a headband than a turban and was therefore called pudong-pudong—as the crowns and diadems on Christian images were later called. A red pudong was called magalong, and was the insignia of braves who had killed an enemy. The most prestigious kind of pudong, limited to the most valiant, was, like their G-strings, made of pinayusan, a gauze-thin abaca of fibers selected for their whiteness, tie-dyed a deep scarlet in patterns as fine as embroidery, and burnished to a silky sheen. Such pudong were lengthened with each additional feat of valor: real heroes therefore let one end hang loose with affected carelessness. Women generally wore a kerchief, called tubatub if it was pulled tight over the whole head; but they also had a broad-brimmed hat called sayap or tarindak, woven of sago-palm leaves. Some were evidently signs of rank: when Humabon’s queen went to hear mass during Magellan’s visit, she was preceded by three girls carrying one of her hats . A headdress from Cebu with a deep crown, used by both sexes for travel on foot or by boat, was called sarok, which actually meant to go for water.
THE TEXTILE TRADE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
The exchange of luxury textiles was predominant on the
Fabric in Ancient Greece was woven on a warp-weighted loom. The first extant image of weaving in western art is from a terracotta lekythos in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY . The vase, c. 550-530 B.C.E., depicts two women weaving at an upright loom. The warp threads, which run vertically to a bar at the top, are tied together with weights at the bottom, which hold them taut. The woman on the right runs the shuttle containing the weaving thread across the middle of the warp. The woman on the left uses a beater to consolidate the already-woven threads.
Dress in classical antiquity favored wide, unsewn lengths of fabric, pinned and draped to the body in various ways.
Ancient Greek clothing consisted of lengths of wool or linen, generally rectangular and secured at the shoulders with ornamented pins called fibulae and belted with a sash. Typical garments were the peplos , a loose robe worn by women; the chlamys , a cloak worn by men; and the chiton , a tunic worn by both men and women. Men’s chitons hung to the knees, whereas women’s chitons fell to their ankles. A long cloak called a himation was worn over the peplos or chlamys.
The toga of ancient Rome was also an unsewn length of wool cloth,
worn by male citizens draped around the body in various fashions, over
a simple tunic . Early tunics were two simple rectangles joined at the
shoulders and sides; later tunics had sewn sleeves . Women wore the
draped stola or an ankle-length tunic, with a shawl -like palla as an
IRON AGE EUROPE
The Iron Age is broadly identified as stretching from the end of the Bronze Age around 1200 BC to 500 AD and the beginning of the Medieval period. Bodies and clothing have been found from this period, preserved by the anaerobic and acidic conditions of peat bogs in northwestern Europe. A Danish recreation of clothing found with such bodies indicates woven wool dresses, tunics and skirts. These were largely unshaped and held in place with leather belts and metal brooches or pins. Garments were not always plain, but incorporated decoration with contrasting colours, particularly at the ends and edges of the garment. Men wore breeches , possibly with lower legs wrapped for protection, although Boucher states that long trousers have also been found. Warmth came from woollen shawls and capes of animal skin, probably worn with the fur facing inwards for added comfort. Caps were worn, also made from skins, and there was an emphasis on hair arrangements, from braids to elaborate Suebian knots . Soft laced shoes made from leather protected the foot.
MEDIEVAL CLOTHING AND TEXTILES
The history of
Medieval European clothing and textiles has inspired a
good deal of scholarly interest in the 21st century. Elisabeth
Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland authored
Medieval Finds from Excavations in London, c.1150-c.1450
(Boydell Press, 2001). The topic is also the subject of an annual
The Byzantines made and exported very richly patterned cloth, woven and embroidered for the upper classes, and resist-dyed and printed for the lower. By Justinian's time the Roman toga had been replaced by the tunica , or long chiton , for both sexes, over which the upper classes wore various other garments, like a dalmatica (dalmatic ), a heavier and shorter type of tunica; short and long cloaks were fastened on the right shoulder.
Leggings and hose were often worn, but are not prominent in depictions of the wealthy; they were associated with barbarians, whether European or Persian.
EARLY MEDIEVAL EUROPE
European dress changed gradually in the years 400 to 1100. People in many countries dressed differently depending on whether they identified with the old Romanised population, or the new invading populations such as Franks , Anglo-Saxons , and Visigoths . Men of the invading peoples generally wore short tunics , with belts, and visible trousers, hose or leggings. The Romanised populations, and the Church, remained faithful to the longer tunics of Roman formal costume.
The elite imported silk cloth from the Byzantine, and later Muslim, worlds, and also probably cotton. They also could afford bleached linen and dyed and simply patterned wool woven in Europe itself. But embroidered decoration was probably very widespread, though not usually detectable in art. Lower classes wore local or homespun wool, often undyed, trimmed with bands of decoration, variously embroidery , tablet-woven bands, or colorful borders woven into the fabric in the loom.
HIGH MIDDLE AGES AND THE RISE OF FASHION
The 13th century saw great progress in the dyeing and working of wool, which was by far the most important material for outerwear. Linen was increasingly used for clothing that was directly in contact with the skin. Unlike wool, linen could be laundered and bleached in the sun. Cotton, imported raw from Egypt and elsewhere, was used for padding and quilting, and cloths such as buckram and fustian .
Crusaders returning from the
Cultural and costume historians agree that the mid-14th century marks
the emergence of recognizable "fashion" in Europe. From this century
onwards, Western fashion changed at a pace quite unknown to other
civilizations, whether ancient or contemporary. In most other
cultures, only major political changes, such as the Muslim conquest of
India, produced radical changes in clothing, and in China, Japan, and
In this period, the draped garments and straight seams of previous centuries were replaced by curved seams and the beginnings of tailoring, which allowed clothing to more closely fit the human form, as did the use of lacing and buttons . A fashion for mi-parti or parti-coloured garments made of two contrasting fabrics, one on each side, arose for men in mid-century, and was especially popular at the English court. Sometimes just the hose would have different colours on each leg.
RENAISSANCE AND EARLY MODERN PERIOD
Bold floral patterned silks, 15th century. Main article: 1400–1500 in fashion
Silk-weaving was well established around the Mediterranean by the
beginning of the 15th century, and figured silks, often silk velvets
with silver-gilt wefts , are increasingly seen in Italian dress and in
the dress of the wealthy throughout Europe. Stately floral designs
featuring a pomegranate or artichoke motif had reached Europe from
As prosperity grew in the 15th century, the urban middle classes, including skilled workers, began to wear more complex clothes that followed, at a distance, the fashions set by the elites. National variations in clothing increased over the century.
EARLY MODERN EUROPE
1500–1550 in fashion
By the first half of the 16th century, the clothing of the Low Countries, German states, and Scandinavia had developed in a different direction than that of England, France, and Italy, although all absorbed the sobering and formal influence of Spanish dress after the mid-1520s.
Elaborate slashing was popular, especially in Germany. Black was increasingly worn for the most formal occasions. Bobbin lace arose from passementerie in the mid-16th century, probably in Flanders . This century also saw the rise of the ruff , which grew from a mere ruffle at the neckline of the shirt or chemise to immense cartwheel shapes. At their most extravagant, ruffs required wire supports and were made of fine Italian reticella , a cutwork linen lace.
By the turn of the 17th century, a sharp distinction could be seen between the sober fashions favored by Protestants in England and the Netherlands, which still showed heavy Spanish influence, and the light, revealing fashions of the French and Italian courts.
The great flowering of needlelace occurred in this period. Geometric reticella deriving from cutwork was elaborated into true needlelace or punto in aria (called in England "point lace"), which reflected the scrolling floral designs popular for embroidery. Lacemaking centers were established in France to reduce the outflow of cash to Italy.
According to Dr. Wolf D. Fuhrig, "By the second half of the 17th century, Silesia had become an important economic pillar of the Habsburg monarchy, largely on the strength of its textile industry."
Mughal India (16th to 18th centuries) was the most important center
of manufacturing in international trade up until the 18th century. Up
In early modern Europe , there was significant demand for textiles from Mughal India, including cotton textiles and silk products. European fashion , for example, became increasingly dependent on Mughal Indian textiles and silks. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Mughal India accounted for 95% of British imports from Asia .
Emphasis was placed on the adornment of women. Even though the purdah was made compulsory for the Mughal women, we see that this did not stop themselves from experimenting in style and attire. Abul Fazal mentions that there were sixteen components that adorned a woman. These not only included clothing but also other aspects like that of oiling the body and iqtar. Mughal women wore long loose jamas with full sleeves and in winters it was accompanied by a Qaba or a Kashmir shawl used as a coat. Women were very fond of their perfumes and scents. Jewellery in the Mughal tradition signified not only religious values but also style statements.
ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE COLONIAL PERIOD
During the 18th century, distinction was made between full dress worn at Court and for formal occasions, and undress or everyday, daytime clothes. As the decades progressed, fewer and fewer occasions called for full dress which had all but disappeared by the end of the century. Full dress followed the styles of the French court, where rich silks and elaborate embroidery reigned. Men continued to wear the coat , waistcoat and breeches for both full dress and undress; these were now sometimes made of the same fabric and trim, signalling the birth of the three-piece suit .
Women's silhouettes featured small, domed hoops in the 1730s and
early 1740s, which were displaced for formal court wear by side hoops
or panniers which later widened to as much as three feet to either
side at the court of
Marie Antoinette .
For women's dresses, Indian cottons, especially printed chintzes , were imported to Europe in large numbers, and towards the end of the period simple white muslin gowns were in fashion.
During the industrial revolution , fabric production was mechanised
with machines powered by waterwheels and steam-engines . Production
shifted from small cottage based production to mass production based
on assembly line organisation.
In the early 20th century, workers in the clothing and textile
industries became unionised. Later in the 20th century, the industry
had expanded to such a degree that such educational institutions as UC
Davis established a Division of
Textiles and Clothing, The University
of Nebraska-Lincoln also created a Department of Textiles, Clothing
and Design that offers a Masters of Arts in
Alongside these developments were changes in the types and style of clothing produced. During the 1960s, had a major influence on subsequent developments in the industry.
Textiles were not only made in factories. Before this, they were made in local and national markets. Dramatic change in transportation throughout the nation is one source that encouraged the use of factories. New advances such as steamboats, canals, and railroads lowered shipping costs which caused people to buy cheap goods that were produced in other places instead of more expensive goods that were produced locally. Between 1810 and 1840, the development of a national market prompted manufacturing which tripled the output’s worth. This increase in production created a change in industrial methods, such as the use of factories instead of hand made woven materials that families usually made.
The vast majority of the people who worked in the factories were women. Women went to work in textile factories for a number of reasons. Some women left home to live on their own because of crowding at home; or to save for future marriage portions. The work enabled them to see more of the world, to earn something in anticipation of marriage, and to ease the crowding within the home. They also did it to make money for family back home. The money they sent home was to help out with the trouble some of the farmers were having. They also worked in the millhouses because they could gain a sense of independence and growth as a personal goal.
Synthetic fibers such as nylon were invented during the 20th century and synthetic fibers have been added to many natural fibers.
The worldwide market for textiles and apparel exports in 2013 according to United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database stood at $772 billion.
In 2016, the largest apparel exporting nations were
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