A History of Textiles in 500 Words
May 06, 2015
Hello everyone! At Australian Uniform Service we take great pride in the history of our company. Australian Uniform Service was once several laundries throughout the Eastern states of Australia, so our obsession with quality textiles is as deeply part of our company’s history as it is within world history. Read on.
Major inventions: the spindle and loom. The spindle allowed people to turn fibres into yarn, and the loom wove that yarn together, creating the first textiles. No one has a specific date for the first spindle or loom, but the oldest currently known dyed textile fibres were found in the Republic of Georgia, indicating that textiles were not only used, but ancient humans were aesthetically manipulating them.
European figurines dating from 25,000 BCE were designed wearing clothing, showing textiles were commonplace by that time.
Slightly less ancient World
In 8,000 BCE, flax, used to make linen, was commonly grown in Egypt. Linen, cotton and silk were widespread in Mesopotamia, China and India by 5,000 BCE. The production of twill, plain and satin weave fabrics have remained largely unchanged since their introduction during this period.
114 BCE- 400 CE
The peak of trading on the Silk Road; exposing European markets to these fabrics increased demand for ornate, decorative clothing. By the time the Roman Empire (27 BCE-476 CE) controlled the Silk Road, the Roman demands for more fabric from China, Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East were greater than production capabilities. The Silk Road finally fell into disuse in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople.
Fashion in Europe officially takes off, thanks to progressions in the technology for dyeing fabrics, tailoring and textile work. Prior to this, the clothing changed depending on the invading population’s style. For example, the Anglo- Saxon’s standard dress of short tunic, tights, and cloak soon became the norm in many European countries.
Prosperity in Renaissance Europe led to the increasing complexity of clothing. The wealthier classes set fashion trends, and there were national variations in clothing styles.
During the era known as the Age of Enlightenment, social norms pushed people to differentiate between “full dress” for formal occasions and everyday wear; by the end of the century the democratic ideals set by the French and American Revolutions (1789 and 1776, respectively) called for an equal simplification and democratisation of clothing.
The Industrial Revolution introduced changes to fashion and the way textiles were produced. Previously made by individual households, the mass production of textiles took off with new technology, and men’s military uniforms during the War of 1812 were the first ready-to-wear clothes produced in standard sizes.
Barthélemy Thimonnier introduced the first practical and widely used sewing machine. The time dedicated to clothing production and maintenance decreased significantly. The average time to make a dress shirt went from 14 hours to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Women’s ready-to-wear clothing was finally available. This was delayed behind men’s clothing because of the ornateness and precise fit needed for many women’s fashion styles at the time. Synthetic fabrics were also created during this century, and many are used with natural fibers today.
Innovations in technology influence fashion, from production methods that are energy and water efficient, using recycled materials to make new fabrics, to dyeing fabrics with some old school products, namely, coffee, tea and milk.
We’ve seen where fashion’s been, but where do you think it’s heading? No matter the direction, Australian Uniform Service will continue to find the best textiles for you, on the cutting edge of technology.