Silk fabric is widely regarded as the most luxurious textile on the planet. Its tumultuous history, rife with wars, secrecy, and centuries of trade, bears little resemblance to the fabric's current reputation for being the epitome of high fashion. Silk- From Asia Pacific To Across The Globe, will give you insights about silk and the latest fashion trends in silk.
History of silk began in the 27th century BC in China where it remained in sole use until the commercial ways appeared from China to the Mediterranean Sea. There is also evidence of silk dating between 4000 and 3000 BCE. During the latter half of the first millennium BC, Silk Road opened and silk started to spread the world. Cultivation of silk spread to Japan somewhere around 300 CE while by 522 the Byzantines managed to obtain silkworm eggs and were able to begin silkworm cultivation of their own. In time, the Chinese lost their secret to the Koreans and later the Indians.
Silk was not used just for clothing. Paper was also made out of silk and it was the first type of luxury paper. Again, it’s worth became more valuable and it was used as payment for government officials and compensation to citizens who were particularly worthy. The length of the silk cloth became a monetary standard in China.
The most abundant form of silk, a natural protein fiber, is cultivated from the cocoon of mulberry silkworm larvae. Silkworms lay eggs on special paper and eat only fresh mulberry leaves. Thirty-five days after hatching, the silkworms begin spinning their cocoons. Each cocoon yields 1,000 yards of raw silk thread, which is then spun to produce a “yarn” of silk. The process is time-consuming and delicate, which explains the high cost of silk. The fiber gets its brilliant shimmer from its structure, a triangular prism that reflects light at varying angles. Another variant of silk, “wild silk”, is produced by caterpillars other than the mulberry silkworm, and can be harvested in captivity much like traditional silk.
Types Of Silk
Here are some of the silks found in India:
1. Tanchoi Silk
2. Garad Silk
3. Jamawar Silk
4. Matka Silk
5. Banarasi/Benarasi Silk
6. Mulberry Silk
7. Murshidabad Silk
8. Bangalore Silk
9. Angora Silk
10. Silk Embroidery
11. Pochampally/Pochampalli Silk
12. Mysore Silk Crepe
13. Sournachuri Silk
14. Raw Silk
What Is Organic Silk?
Organic silk (aka raw silk) is created without the use of any chemicals or treatments using insecticides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The silkworms are allowed to live out their full lives and die naturally.
Environmental friendliness utilizes natural and sustainable farming techniques. Of course, raw silk is biodegradable and always stays as the latest trend in fashion.
There are broadly three different types of sustainable/ethical silk currently in production – organic silk, certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard, so-called ‘peace silk’, which uses a more humane type of sericulture (that is, the cultivation of silkworms) and silk (especially silk fabric) that is verified under the World Fair Trade Organisation Guarantee System.
Silk Imports And Exports
With sericulture activities spread across 52,360 villages, the Indian silk industry is one of the largest generators of employment and foreign exchange for the country. India enjoys a unique global position in terms of the production of all commercially useful varieties of silk. India is the second-largest producer of silk. The industry provides employment to over 7.9 million people in the country.
The silk products exported include natural silk yarns, fabrics, made-ups, readymade garments, silk carpets, and silk waste.
Readymade silk garments formed the largest segment generating around 68 percent of silk export earnings during April-February 2016-17, while natural silk yarn, fabrics, and made-ups comprised 22.3 percent of silk export earnings. Silk waste, silk carpet, and silk yarn comprised 5.3 percent, 3.8 percent, and 0.5 percent, respectively.
In 2016-17 (April-August), top ten importers of Indian silk and silk products were US (US$ 21.59 million), UK (US$ 13.47 million), China (US$ 13.27 million), UAE (US$ 8.28 million), Germany (US$ 5.3 million), Italy (US$ 5.23 million), Canada (US$ 3.66 million), France (US$ 3.14 million), Singapore (US$ 3.11 million), and Hong Kong (US$ 2.25 million).
Italy has been traditionally the largest importer, processor, and exporter of silk products in Europe. In 1997, Italy imported some 3200 tons of raw silk and over 700 tons of silk yarn, primarily from China. Italy also imported about 300 tons of ladies' blouses, of which over 80% came from China. Silk garment imports, however, have drastically gone down over the last five years. (In 1992, the country imported more than 700 tons of ladies' blouses.)
France is another country with a considerable silk processing industry. For centuries, Lyon has produced silk fabrics of the highest quality for domestic consumption and for export. More than 70% of silk fabrics in the French market have been traditionally used for clothing
Traditionally the largest silk consumer, Japan in the 1960s relied entirely on local silk production, mostly for kimonos. Between the 1970s and today, local silk production dropped from over 20,000 tons to less than 2000.
Silk Dominates The Indian Fashion Market
Silk in the Indian subcontinent is a luxury good. In India, about 97% of the raw mulberry silk is produced in the five Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir. Mysore and North Bangalore, the up coming site of a US$20 million "Silk City", contributes to a majority of silk production. Another emerging silk producer in Tamil Nadu where mulberry cultivation is concentrated in Salem, Erode and Dharmapuri districts. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, and Gobichettipalayam, Tamil Nadu were the first locations to have automated silk reeling units.
Designers like Ritu Kumar prefer to work with fabrics like silk, cotton, and leather. Abraham & Thakore work a lot with sarees and Kurtis, their lines and drapes are contemporary and edgy, making them the perfect examples of fusion. Sabyasachi Mukherjee pioneered the use of Indian fabrics, mainly silk in his creations. All of this tells us that silk has been a major contributor in the fashion industry today and for generations. Especially in the Indian subcontinent, silk has been a major part of the handloom industry and the latest fashion trends for women.
Today, silk fabrics are prevalent in every country: from Indian saris to French couture gowns, it has pervaded all cultures. From what we have seen and read about silk, it’s evident that the fabric’s low conductivity keeps one warm in the winter, while its great absorbency wicks moisture away during summer. The feel of silk fabric is unmistakable: smooth and luxurious, the fabric ripples like the surface of the water. This quality makes it especially suitable for intimates and elegant dresses. It is a fabric reserved for special occasions; a cloth meant to enhance a moment.