Silk – the story

Silk – the story background

Since time immemorial, silk has been coveted by common man and  royalty alike. Known for its luster and drape, silk derives from the larvae of the silk worm that feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree. Silk originated in China. The Chinese kept the technique of making silk a secret for a long time. As per folklore, the secret was smuggled out of China by Byzantine monks and taken to Constantinople. Silk was soon available in Europe, the Middle East and India.  The routes associated with silk trade came to be known as the famous silk route or the Silk Road.

silk – the story features

Silk is soft, smooth and lustrous and absorbs dyes brilliantly. Hence, it has been popular with dressmakers for formal and bridal wear and accessories like  designer silk scarves or for beaded clutch bags. However, like all natural fabrics, silk reacts to elements. It shrinks, catches mildew and fades in sunlight. To make it more sturdy and suitable for everyday use, silk is blended with viscose or man made fibres. Blended silk scarves are strong. Silk and wool scarves are warm and have less static.  Polyester silk kaftans can take the rough and tumble of travel, daily wear and beachwear.

silk – the story process

The silk worm spends part of its life cycle inside a cocoon it spins from its own secretion. Commercial silk is made by boiling the cocoons while the worm is still inside. For this reason, commercial silk is shunned by vegetarians, vegans and anyone against cruelty to animals. Wild silk or peace silk is a non – violent alternative to commercial silk. Termed non – violent or Ahimsa silk by Mahatma Gandhi, wild silk or tussar silk is made by collecting the cocoons after the silk worm has emerged out of the pupa. The cocoons are not commercially farmed but are collected by tribal communities residing in the forests. Wild silk, thus sustains the environment and the communities. Wild silk lacks the luster of commercial silk and shows slubs or impurities. These characteristics add to the handcrafted look and the understated elegance of tussar silk. Tussar silk fabrics are sought after by eco friendly designers. Tussar silk scarves are an ethical and fashion forward alternative to silk scarves.

Next time, more on how to follow fashion with a conscience.