Some of the greatest potential in human style is hidden beneath droves of mainstream fashion fundamentals, like velvet, satin or chiffon. Even more common and trusted fibers like cotton and muslin are doing the human form a disservice: where is the uniqueness? Is there something so magical about khaki that I just do not have the capacity to understand? Shantung is overused and taffeta is overdone. Even tulle is starting to lose its appeal. It is past time we as human beings begin to look beneath the calico curtain, if you will, and turn to unconventional fabrics for heightened fashion.
First on my list of fabrics that mainstream fashion refuses to acknowledge is terry cloth. For those unfamiliar, ask yourself this question: “Have I ever showered?” If the answer to this question is “Yes” then you have encountered terry cloth in your life. Terry cloth is the type of fabric that towels and bathrobes are made from, but they also appear in other contexts like sweat bands and reusable diapers. Outside of these areas, unfortunately, terry cloth is rarely seen.
At its core, terry cloth is a woven fabric—usually cotton, but sometimes it contains polyester—with long loops of thread that can absorb water very effectively. Basically, terry cloth is a brilliant fabric with the capacity to hold an unbelievable quantity of water. However, despite its aesthetic appeal and its convenience, terry cloth fails to permeate the fashion world, leaving a beautiful piece of cloth incapable of reaching a higher purpose. Terry cloth is such an underrated fabric in the clothing industry because not only is it thick and sexy, but it is also warm and absorbent! Also, it is easily dyed, meaning it can appear in a spectrum of sexy and fun colors!
Another under-utilized fabric is the very unique and sexy cheese cloth. Not only is this light, delicate, gauzy fabric perfect for wrapping cheese, but it also has the capability to beautifully envelop the human form in a luxurious film of dairy glory. Cheese cloth arrived at a level of notoriety for its uncanny ability to encase the godly flavor in the cheese. However, it remains almost entirely unheard of in the fashion world and for seemingly no reason. While this thin fabric might not be much in the way of shelter from the elements, cheese cloth not only provides an ethereal glow but, in addition, can serve a double purpose in that it can act as a cheese cloth when necessary! The fashion industry is saturated with boring fabrics that do little more than cover the body. Cheese cloth adds elegance and grace to an outfit and is perfect not only for veils but for pants as well! This breathable fabric is incredibly versatile and carries so much potential for future fashions.
At last, I am brought to the finale of this trio of underrated fabrics: felt. Though often used in craft settings, felt has the potential to be the star of the runway because of its incredible versatility and uniqueness. Felt, as you all know, has the incredible ability to hold a rigid shape when it is draped over something. With this ability brings a wealth of fashion possibilities, adding a soft yet positively architectural element rarely seen in fashion. Felt has some amazing properties to it as well. Along with being able to hold its shape, felt is also moisture wicking if it is made from the usual wool fibers. As a cloth that is available in an array of shades at a shockingly low cost, felt is the spur—nay—the catalyst that the fashion industry needs to pick itself up off the ground of boring cottons and muslins. It’s time we look past the usual satin and velvet that we are so familiar with. Felt really captures the creativity, uniqueness, and nuance that the fashion industry lacks. Without the implementation of these three fabrics into mainstream fashion, the potential capable for creating beautiful pieces is severely stunted. I implore everyone reading this to open your eyes and open your hearts to unconventional and under-utilized fabrics in mainstream fashion.