Fashionistas have approved this opulent fabric winning hearts and taking the center stage at global platforms. When one is looking to channel their Indian roots, this piece of fabric is a preferred choice amongst women and why not - it has a natural sheen, an ultra smooth texture along with an essence of elegance and excellent draping qualities. The silk fabric is highly advocated by the fashionistas leaving a deep mark on the world.
But have you wondered why this piece of fabric makes for a prized possession and why its prices are soaring higher than ever? Amongst so many varieties of silk, the purest of the purest silk price goes up to INR 5,000 per piece. Ranging from the price of relatively affordable raw silk to the very expensive moonga silk - it depends on the quality and the type of silk fabric. So, what really so special about the fabric -
The making of silk and its unique qualities
Silk fabric is made from natural protein fibers obtained particularly from the silkworm larvae of the Bombyx mori moth. Through an intense process of sericulture the worms are carefully harvested to extract the silk fabric and create a single thread by spinning cocoons. Which are then twisted together to form a stronger yarn perfect for weaving and knitting the fabric.
Silk is renowned for its luxurious qualities with a natural soft and smooth texture that feel comfortable on the skin. It not only accentuates the overall look of the ensemble, but one of its unique qualities is to absorb and release moisture regulating the body temperature and keeping the wearer cool and dry.
It’s all glitz and glamour along with a touch of elegance with fabric - the luster of silk gives it a distincting shine that catches and reflects light. It drapes beautifully and gracefully, creating a silhouette that not only flatters but also impresses. It’s strong, durable and long lasting - only if you properly care for it. And how can we not talk about its versatility - from lehengas, sarees , dresses to accessories, home furnishings and beyond. It’s truly a timeless choice!
So what makes SILK so costly?
1. Labor intensive work
The cultivation of silk requires a careful rearing of silk worms which then spin cocoons made of silk thread. It takes immense precision to handle the cocoons and ensure good quality of silk. The whole process is time consuming and requires involvement of labour at every step, which in turn levels up the cost of production.
2. Less in more - limited availability
The silk fabric is carefully derived from natural sources - cocoons of silkworms. This makes the production limited due to factors like - climate, availability of quality mulberry leaves, time required by silkworms to complete their lifecycle and contribute to the high price.
3. All about the skill and expertise
The intensive work involved to handle the processes can only be carried out with specialized knowledge and expertise, hence the skilled artisans and craftsmanship adds to the cost of production.
4. High in demand yet exclusive
For the longest time, silk has been associated with luxury and refinement. Regarded for its softness, smooth texture and natural sheen, the fabric is advocated by fashionistas of the industry. It's true that its exclusivity makes it associated with high end fashion and luxury brands, the perceived value and prestige contributing to its higher price.
5. Quality and characteristics
Superior quality, breathable and hypoallergenic! High quality silk fabrics are made from long and uniform silk fibers giving it the smooth and lustrous appearance. The production requires careful selection, adding to the cost!
History of this extravagant fabric - Have you heard of the SILK route?
The fabric has its roots dating back to thousands of years, closely intertwined with the development of civilization in China. The Chinese legend says that the discovery of this luxurious fabric dates back to around 2,700 BCE when a cocoon fell into an empress’s tea cup, who was sipping tea under a mulberry tree. As she tried to remove it, she couldn’t help but notice a fine thread unravelling from the cocoon and her inquisitiveness to know more led to the discovery of the process of silk production.
The production of silk thread in ancient China was a well kept secret for many centuries slowly developing into a thriving silk industry. It was regarded as a luxury commodity reserved for the ruling class, nobility and the elite - widely used for clothing and ceremonial purposes. Gradually the trade of silk along the Silk Road helped spread its popularity in the west and establish a reputation of a prized fabric. In no time, the knowledge of sericulture and silk production spread across the China borders into different parts of the world, from India, Thailand to Brazil and France - who discovered their own way of making this fabric.
Thanks to The Silk Road that facilitated the exchange of not only silk fabric but also other goods like spices, precious metals, gems and technologies, creating a huge impact of trade and cultural exchange.
Now a dire symbol of wealth and social status, various creative innovations have revolutionized the silk industry - water powered silk mills, development of mechanical silk reeling machines, synthetic silk production, together contributing to its evolution. The fabric continues to be valued for its lustrous appearance, softness, breathability, finding its place in high end luxury products. A testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of ancient civilizations and the enduring appeal and allure of this beautiful material.
Types of silk fabric
One can be mesmerized by the beauty of the silk fabric and even more by an array of varieties available out there, each with its own unique characteristics and the way they are made.
1. Mulberry Silk - one of the most common and widely produced silk derived from Bombyx mori silk species. Spot these silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves! Mulberry silk is known for its sheen, softness and fine texture, highly valued for its durability and breathability.
2. Tussar Silk - also known as the ‘kosa silk’ or the ‘wild silk', Tussar silk is produced by a species of silkworm called - Antheraea mylitta. With a slightly coarse feel, the fabric has a natural dull gold color and a unique rustic texture. It is loved for being absolutely lightweight, suitable for the hot and humid summer season.
3. Eri Silk - as unique as the name suggests, this type is known as the ‘Ahimsa or the ‘Peace’ silk for its natural off-white and beige colour. Produced by the special - Samia ricini, it is often used to make warm fabrics like shawls, stoles and mostly winter wear.
Moonga Silk - A highly prized fabric, the Moonga silk is produced specifically in the state of Assam. Derived from the species Antheraea assamensis, it is known for its natural gold color. Along with its fine texture, what’s interesting is that the fabric becomes more lustrous with age. It’s exclusivity and alluring sheen makes it one of the most valuable silk varieties.
Spider Silk - The rarest and special of them all, the Spider Silk is derived from a very special species of spiders known for their strong silk fibres. It is incredibly strong with a remarkable elasticity surpassing most other types of silk and even steel when it comes to tensile strength. Sadly, one won’t find it easily because of limited production.
Silk is a premium fabric with extraordinary qualities and a luxe factor! Opt for these extravagant pieces of special silk sarees - from Kanjivaram, Banarasi to Chanderi, handwoven with love in contemporary designs, beautiful hues and finest quality. For every discerning woman, by WeaverStory-
Author - Aarushi Sharma