Today, silk remains one of the most desired commodities around the world. Silk is a natural fiber known for its shine, luster, and durability, and it happens to be the strongest natural textile in the world. Silk is the epitome of luxury due to its high production cost, softness, and elegance. As a result, it is most commonly used for high-end fashion design.
What is silk?
Masterclass defines silk as “a natural fiber produced by insects as a material for their nests and cocoons.” This material is made primarily of a protein called fibroin. Fibroin is what makes silk known for its shine and softness. While other insects such as bees and hornets also produce silk-like substances, most of the world’s silk is produced from Bombyx mori larvae, which are worms that only live on mulberry trees.
History of Silk
The cultivation of domesticated silk originated in China. China dominated the silk industry for decades, and initially, the material was reserved for the Emperor. The Chinese decided to use silk as a form of currency, and the cost was measured by length. Silk production in China eventually led to the development of major pre-industrial trade routes such as The Silk Road, which connected industries from the East to the West. The material did not make its way to the U.S. until the seventeenth century.
How Is Silk Made?
The processes needed to make silk fabric are still essentially the same as in the ancient world. The method of making silk is called sericulture, and it involves harvesting silkworms for the material.
- Larvae are fed mulberry leaves.
- After they have molted several times, they spin a cocoon. The silk solidifies upon contact with air. This process takes about two to three days.
- Once the cocoon is formed, it is dropped into a pot of boiling water, effectively killing the pupae.
- The silk filament is extracted by brushing the cocoon.
- The raw silk is woven or knit into a fabric or spun into a yarn.
- The silk yarn is put through a roller to make it more uniform.
At this point, the yarn is ready to be woven into a garment or another type of textile.
Doaa Dashoush is an experienced businesswoman in the fashion industry. She currently serves as the President and CEO of GFASHION, a global luxury brand currently based in New York City. GFASHION prides themselves on their unique approach to the industry. They don’t follow trends set by others. The Luxury brand focuses on innovative design through their work with the top designers on collections that reflect the company’s craftsmanship.