Are we cut from the same cloth? Maybe. Maybe not!
Fabric is almost as old as time. Over centuries, different types of fabric and textile have been integral to people’s lives. The art of weaving fiber into fabric is ever evolving and at the heart of the fashion industry. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of fabric and discover more about its different types.
Fashionable or not, we all wear clothes. From workout clothes to couture, we’re surrounded by a plethora of fabrics. Not only do they protect us from the external environment, but they also contribute to our personal style. Not all clothes are made of the same type of fabric. Your corporate clothes aren’t made from the same material as your bathing suit. A ballerina’s tutu material isn’t the same as a leather jacket or denim overalls.
We dress for weather, for occasion, and for style. Knowing what kind of fabric your clothes is made out of is important as different types of fabrics have different properties. Some materials are better for warmer environments, while others will help keep heat trapped in, even in wet conditions. Certain types of fabric may be more appropriate than others depending on the occasion. Even when home, fabric types can dictate the care necessary to clean your clothes. Understanding fabrics is a vital part of understanding how to wear and wash the items in your closet.
There’s something whimsical and almost romantic about creating fabric and tailoring it into outfits. It embodies history, fashion, culture, and the human spirit. Fabric can be made from a single type of fiber or from a combination of fibers. Our clothes can be made of natural or synthetic fabric. There are several textile blends available in the market. There are countless different types of fabric that differ from each other in origin, weaving method, texture, appearance, and price points.
Different types of fabric based on origin
All fabrics can be categorized as natural or synthetic.
Natural fabric is made from organic or natural fibers that are found in nature, and hence the name. All natural fibers are either cellulose-based, protein-based, or mineral-based. Popular examples of natural fabric include cotton, hemp, jute, linen, silk, etc.
Synthetic fabrics are made from man-made fibers. Nylon, rayon, and polyester are popular examples of synthetic fibers used to make fabrics that are used in clothing, home furnishings, and more.
From an environmental standpoint, natural fabrics, like cotton, biodegrade faster than man-made fibers. On a daily-basis you’re unlikely to notice a difference. Over decades, this can be better for the planet.
An interesting type of fabric to note is animal skin. It can come in the form of leather, suede, fur, or shearling. These are considered natural fabrics. However, this type of fabric isn’t made from fiber but directly obtained from animals such as cows, crocodiles, sheep etc.
Worried about the animals? Faux fur, vegan leather, and faux suede exist. They are examples of manufactured, or artificial, animal skins. From an ethical standpoint, these manufactured fabrics may be a better choice. From an environmental standpoint, these manufactured fabrics are not as biodegradable as the real version.
Different types of fabric based on structural composition
Depending on how fibers are combined to make a fabric, there are three major types of fabric:
- Knitted: One or more yarns are used to create this type of fabric by inter-looping them. Some knitted fabrics are stretchy. They’re usually more flexible than knitted fabrics and often find their use in socks, hats, gloves etc.
- Woven: This type is woven on looms and has a warp and a weft – which is used to transform fiber into fabric. There are tightly woven edges called “selvedge” in woven fabrics. Different weave types are used to create a range of different effects such as plain, satin, twill, waffle etc.
- Stretch: Fabrics such as spandex fall under stretch fabrics as they’re woven out of stretch materials. These fabrics can be stretched, and they regain their original structure better than knitted fabrics do.
Different types of fabric
We have an overview of some of the most popular types of fabric. These are some of the most common fabrics used to make the clothes you wear every day. Take a look at these fourteen types of fabric!
It is one of the most used fabrics in the world. In fact, the global annual production of cotton stands at 27 tons. This organic textile is soft, light, and durable. Be aware that it often shrinks during its first wash. Cotton is also used to yield other fabrics such as muslin, chino, and gingham. Organic cotton is biodegradable and hence, better for the environment.
This fabric is woven from cashmere wool, which is a natural type of wool obtained from cashmere goats. It is soft, warm, and can be expensive. Fun fact: Cashmere is fire-resistant. It is projected that the global cashmere market will be valued at over $3700 million by the end of 2027.
Natural leather is crafted from animal skins. Cow, lamb, and even crocodile skins are used to make leather. It has a unique look and is used to make shoes and jackets along with accessories such as belts and handbags. Vegan leather or faux leather is an alternative leather and can be just as stylish. It is more sustainable, cruelty-free, and affordable.
Delicate, intricate, and oh so gorgeous! Lace is a luxury fabric that is often used to create bridal wear, veils, blouses, curtains, and more. Lace fabric typically contains a base fabric and a pattern or design.
What could be more timeless than a classic pair of blue jeans? Denim was at the center of farm and industrial America from the last 1800s to mid 1900s. Some might agree that denim holds the title for making America’s favorite work pants. This durable fabric is used to make jackets, skirts, wallets, handbags, home décor etc.
Tulle is a type of sheer mesh fabric that finds its use in dresses, tutus, and sometimes in couture. Tulle was created in a town named Tulle in France, and hence the name. Even today, a lot of high-quality tulle is produced in France.
This luxury fabric stands among the most expensive fabrics in the world. Natural silk is spun from silk fiber which is obtained from silkworms. It is smooth to touch and has a shiny look. Silk is hypoallergenic and durable. It is used to make evening wear, bridal gowns, sheets, scarves, robes etc. Last year alone, the United States reportedly imported $71.73 million worth of silk. From an environmental standpoint, silk is biodegradable. Vegan silk is an ethical option that doesn’t require silkworms to be used.
Glossy on one side, and matte on the other, satin is a smooth and luxurious fabric. Its elegance makes it an ideal fabric to make evening wear, lingerie, accessories, etc. This knitted fabric is known for being sleek, lightweight, and stylish.
Wool fabric can be woven or knitted. Natural wool fiber is obtained from sheep, llamas, goats, or even alpacas! Woollen garments such as sweaters, legwarmers, socks, and hats help keep us warm during cold weather. Wool is fascinating in that it can soak up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling wet. Wool fibers have a natural curl that helps wick moisture away without absorbing it. This is one of the reasons that wool is often used to keep people warm in the rain and snow. We’re big on sustainability and wool doesn’t disappoint by being biodegradable.
Throw on some flannel PJs and watch your favorite holiday movie. No kidding, there’s something about flannel that feels familiar and feels like home. Maybe it's just the warmth of this woven fabric that we love during autumn and winter months. It is used to make shirts, sheets, blankets, etc.
Traditionally associated with mourning, this lightweight woven fabric has a rough and crimped surface. Even though the fabric feels lightweight, it’s actually made from yarn that has been tightly twisted. It is extremely soft and so finds its use in making dresses, skirts, scarves, curtains, etc.
This woven fabric has signature ridges known as wales. It is used to make jackets, trousers, overalls, and more. When made from 100% cotton, corduroy is a sustainable and eco-friendly fabric.
13. Faux furs
The biggest selling point of this pile fabric is the fact that it is cruelty-free. It is used to create fashionable coats, rugs, throw pillows, purses, etc. Faux fur is usually less expensive than real fur. It can be good for animals and your wallet.
Did you know that velvet is known as the fabric of royalty? This is because it has been used in the traditional as well as formal attire of monarchs. A soft and luxurious textile, it is usually used to make jackets, coats, dresses, upholstery, cushions, and hats. When made from high quality fibers like cotton or silk, velvet lasts for years and can be effectively recycled.
And that’s a wrap!
There you have it, a carefully curated list naming various different types of fabric in the textile industry. We understand the need for textile, clothes, and eclectic fashion. We also understand the allure of plushy velvets, smooth satins, and luxurious silks.
As a consumer, you want to get the best you can afford. As a brand, we want to deliver what makes you happy in a sustainable way. Our line encompasses conscious buying and ethical fashion. We focus on the environment while helping you look and feel great.