India is a land with a rich history of handspun clothing. Since ancient times, India has managed to stand out with textiles and clothing that ooze charm in every single piece of clothing. Its origins can be traced as early as the 5th millennium BC during the Indus Valley civilisation, where textile production was a highly intricate and labour-intensive process. Fabrics were primarily handwoven from materials like cotton, silk, and wool, with each region developing its distinct weaving techniques and patterns. Over time, advancements such as the spinning wheel and the use of natural dyes revolutionized the industry.
Today, Indian textiles have evolved to incorporate modern machinery, while still preserving traditional craftsmanship. There are many different types of fabrics in India, out of which some have even managed to exemplify their timeless elegance and cultural diversity in the global fashion arena. In this blog, we will introduce you to the different clothing fabrics of India that are primarily being used both in the Indian and international clothing industries.
Cotton is one of the most popular types of Indian fabrics and an integral part of India's textile heritage as it has been used widely in the fashion industry in the country for years now. The extreme level of comfort and breathability it offers creates an indelible love for this traditional Indian fabric.
In our fast-paced lives, juggling between work commitments with a desire to stay stylish can be challenging. Choosing cotton fabric offers the perfect solution, allowing you to effortlessly navigate your busy schedule while still expressing your fashion-forward self. Its flexibility and comfort make it an ideal choice for modern-day go-getters, who want to work hard and look great doing it.
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Silk is one of the best fabrics in India, derived from the fibres produced by silkworms, primarily bombyx mori, during their cocoon stage. India is one of the largest producers of silk globally, renowned for its centuries-old silk production traditions.
This type of Indian fabric is a go-to during big events, occasions and festivals for the richness and grandeur it infuses into the wearer’s look. Silk is often featured in luxury clothing items like anarkali gowns, salwar suits, kurtis and sarees for ladies whereas it features formal suits and t-shirts for men.
Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant, where the plant's stalks are harvested, dried, and processed to extract the fibres. With a history dating back thousands of years, linen was and still is one of the most preferred types of Indian fabrics.
Cotton and linen are two of the Indian fabric types that people usually confuse for being the same. The primary difference between them is that linen is made of flax, offering a textured appearance and moisture-wicking properties whereas cotton is from the cotton plants, offering a more smoother and softer feel.
4. Tissue Silk Fabric
Tissue silk, a cherished variety of Indian fabric, is renowned for its opulent texture and intricate craftsmanship. This traditional Indian fabric is made by weaving very fine silk threads with even finer metallic threads, typically gold or silver, creating a delicate, sheer appearance. Its history is deeply rooted in Indian tradition, with a legacy dating back to the Mughal era when it was a symbol of royal extravagance.
Tissue silk is a widely opted type of fabric in India for special occasions and celebratory events. Women often don tissue silk sarees and salwar suits with intricate zari work for weddings, festivals, and formal gatherings, exuding timeless elegance and grandeur. Men on the other hand embrace this luxurious Indian fabric in sherwanis or kurtas.
Intrigued by the beauty of India’s clothing and fabric history? You might also want to know about the different Indian fabric prints.
Jute fabric is derived from the natural fibres of the jute plant, which is primarily grown in tropical regions. The process involves harvesting the jute plant, and retting the stems to extract the fibers, followed by spinning and weaving to create the fabric. India and Bangladesh are among the world's leading producers of jute fabric, with a long history of jute cultivation and production.
Jute is a versatile type of Indian fabric used for various purposes, most notably in the creation of sacks and bags due to its strength and durability. Additionally, this popular Indian fabric material finds applications in the production of eco-friendly and sustainable packaging materials, reinforcing its role in the global movement towards more environmentally conscious products.
6. Muga silk
Muga silk, a unique and luxurious variety of fabric in India, originates from the northeastern region, of Assam. Muga silk is made from the cocoons of the Muga silkworm, native to Assam, India. The silk is made from the cocoons of the Muga silkworm, native to Assam feeding on som and sualu leaves, producing a golden-yellow silk. After cocoon harvesting, a specialised degumming process retains its natural shimmer and durability.
It is one of the most revered types of Indian fabric for its exquisite qualities and the labour-intensive process behind its creation. Muga silk is also celebrated for its remarkable qualities, including its natural golden sheen, exceptional durability, and resistance to wrinkles.
7. Muslin Fabric
Muslin fabric, a finely woven cotton material, has its origins in the ancient Indian subcontinent with a history that dates back thousands of years. This is a type of Indian fabric that is highly prized for its quality and is made by weaving cotton fibres into a sheer and lightweight fabric with an open, plain weave.
Muslin is one of the most commonly used types of fabric in India in the clothing industry for women's apparel, particularly salwar suits, sarees and gowns. Its soft texture and easy-draping quality make it a preferred choice for feminine and comfortable fashion.
8. Mysore Silk
Originating from the city of Mysore in Karnataka, Mysore silk is an Indian fabric type popular for its exquisite quality and luxury. The making process involves collecting, cleaning, and twisting silk threads, followed by weaving them into intricate patterns on handlooms.
What sets Mysore silk apart from the different types of fabrics in India is its natural sheen, softness, and vibrant colours, making it a symbol of timeless elegance and a prized possession for special occasions and traditional ceremonies.
Wool fabric, an integral part of the diverse and different types of clothing fabrics in India is characterized by its warmth and insulation properties. The unique qualities of wool make it a sought-after traditional Indian fabric not only for winter clothing but also for cosy home textiles.
Wool is known for its natural resilience, excellent moisture-wicking ability, and the capability to retain warmth. In India, wool fabric is often used for making shawls, blankets, and traditional attire like Pashmina shawls, especially in the northern hilly regions, where it offers comfort and protection against cold weather.
These are the different varieties of clothing fabrics in India that weave together a rich cultural heritage, intricate craftsmanship, and timeless elegance. These traditional Indian fabrics are not just materials; they're storytellers of centuries, each thread bearing the weight of history and the promise of contemporary style. We believe this guide would have helped you understand the different types of Indian fabrics and appreciate them for the artistry and craftsmanship that has adorned generations and continues to inspire the world. Learn more about the versatile world of fashion and clothing from our blogs.