Fabric Facts: What’s So Great About Silk?

Ahhh, silk — the mere thought of it makes our fashion senses tingle. Silk first began delighting people in 2640 BCE, when according to Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi became interested in silk worms and learned how to reel the silk and weave it into fabric. In the 3,000 or so years since, silk has became synonymous with luxury. But with so many synthetic alternatives available, why should you splurge on the real thing?

Iconic Silk Scarves by Hermes

The International Silk Association of the United States touts the tagline: “Only Silk is Silk.” And if you’ve ever worn a polyester blouse made to look like silk, you know this is true. Imitation fibers are prone to static, stick to your body and lack silk’s natural luster and drape. Here are a few more reasons silk is often imitated but never duplicated:

  • easily dyed and printed in brilliant colors
  • inimitable natural luster
  • moderate abrasion resistance; one of the strongest natural fibers
  • sheer fabrics are cool in the summer while heavier fabrics are warm in the winter
  • available in a variety of fabrics that can be used for apparel and furnishings
  • smooth, soft and not irritating to the skin
  • natural and renewable resource
  • good absorbency
  • moderate resistance to wrinkling
  • seldom shrinks during care

Silk is so wonderful that many people attribute the development of the manufactured fiber industry to the ongoing desire to emulate silk at a lower cost.

Do you splurge on silk or opt for synthetic alternatives? 

Info Source: Kadolph, Sara J. Textile Tenth Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2007. Print.
Image Source: Vogue.com

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