A much-loved fashion staple – silk – is popular all over the world, but how much do we really know about it? Let’s find out…
Tracing the history of silk will take us back us centuries – in fact, if urban legends are to be believed, the Chinese protected their secret of silk for many years. Since then, the fabric, woven into a textile from a complex protein produced by certain insects to create cocoons from their larvae, has been widely adopted by fashionistas across the world. From how it is made to how it has evolved, let’s spend some time unearthing the beauty of this timeless fabric!
How is silk made?
Making silk is referred to as sericulture – it is a complex process that begins with cultivating silkworms that grow on mulberry leaves. Greenopedia demystifies the process for us, “To create its cocoon, the silkworm secretes one continuous strand of saliva, which hardens into a protective shell to keep the silkworm safe during its metamorphosis into a moth. Soon after, this protective cocoon is boiled or steamed to soften the shell, so it can easily be unraveled into silk thread.” The difference in various silk types stems from how the silk is made. For example, for raw silk, the softened binding agent is left on the fibers, thus giving the fabric a relatively course feel. China currently leads the global production of silk, with over 70 percent of the world’s raw silk originating from there.
Silk and fashion over the years
Silk, historically, as a result of its rich feel and natural sheen was considered a status of wealth. Over the years, we have started producing this fabric at a larger scale, making it economically viable for it to be adapted to everyday wear as well. While there are still silk types (discussed below) that are still very expensive, it can now be found across different garment types – shirts, skirts, sarees, and more. While buying silk, it is important to understand whether you’re buying a synthetic type – what’s great is that today many variations of synthetic silk are of extremely high quality and yet, affordable and easy to maintain. The brilliance of silk lies in its versatility – allowing itself to be a stunning canvas for intricate embroidery and handwork has rendered this fabric is a top choice for designers everywhere.
The wonderful varieties of silk
Let’s cover the different types of silk that are commonly known and often referred to – this will give you an idea of what are key features of each silk type when you hear its name.
- Mulberry silk
Amongst the common silk types – it is extremely high quality and is often used not only in fashion but also for furnishings
- Muga silk
Typical of the Assamese region in India, it is a golden yellow type of silk – often dyed into other colors.
- Raw silk
This fabric is made when the coating of the cocoon is not removed, resulting in unique, rich texture
- Linen silk
Also referred to as Matka silk, this medium-weight silk has a rough texture and is hand-loomed, originating from a thick yarn
- Satin silk or charmeuse
A soft, satin-like fabric, it drapes wonderfully and has an almost creamy finish
- Chiffon silk
Though sometimes difficult to sew, this silk type is relatively sheer and suits garments that require an elegant flow
- Dupion silk
An easy to manage fabric, as it doesn’t crease easily, weaving two colors of yarns makes this silk – it has a subtle luster with multiple hues
- Katan silk
It is prepared by twisting fabrics to lend a strong structure to the fabric – it is often used for Benarasi sarees – view Aditri’s stunning collection of Katan sarees here
Other silk types that you might hear about are silk, organza/kora, taffeta, crepe, and Thai silk. It’s clear now that why one can refer to silk as one of the divas of all fabrics –stunning, dramatic and truly elegant!
At Aditri, we’ve paid true homage to silk with collectible pieces that celebrate the beauty of silk – browse through our entire collection of silk sarees here: https://www.aditri.co.in/product-category/sarees/sarees-silk/