Velvet is one of our favorite fabrics here at the ‘Cult. It’s luxurious and smooth and has so many variations in texture, style, and weight there’s a type to suit just about any style. To us velvet is synonymous with luxury and decadence, and it’s often associated with vampires and Gothic fashion- but velvet fabric also has a fascinating and long history.
Velvet as a fabric has been traced as far back as 2000 B.C., though there is no confirmed single city or town responsible for inventing it the fabric originated in the far east and was imported to other areas.
Originally used only by royalty and the very wealthy, as a status symbol velvet’s delicate nature was perfect for showing off how little one physically worked as a wealthy individual of the time. As the fabric was introduced to Europe via the Silk Route it remained exclusive to the rich and royal well into the 1800s when new methods of producing the fabric and new options for fibers allowed it to spread to the rest of the population.
Nowadays you can find velvet made of everything from true silk to synthetic fibers like rayon or spandex in a vast array of finishes, weights, and patterns. Velvet is made by weaving two thicknesses of cloth together at a time and then sliced apart, which creates the soft texture or pile. This process was extremely time consuming and difficult before the invention of weaving machinery. Even today true silk velvet can be hundreds of dollars a yard as it is still very difficult and labor intense to manufacture.
Sources and Further Information:
Velvet (particularly it’s uses in the Renaissance) and history: