Let’s kick this post off with the most expensive fabric in the world – Vicuña wool. Vicuña is a relative of the llama, and its wool can only be shorn once every 2-3 years, demanding a whopping $6000 per meter. Kiton, an Italian tailor and vicuña specialist, makes only about 100 pieces from vicunña wool every year. Sports coats made of this fabric can fetch a hefty sum of $21,000 and upwards, while a made-to-measure suit has an entry-level price of $40,000.
If money makes the world go round, fabric can claim part of the honour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. currency paper is made of 25% linen and 75% cotton, so I guess it turns out the so-called “paper currency” isn’t actually paper at all! It’s probably a wise choice of material because if the bills were made of paper, if you accidentally left them in your pants pocket and sent it for a whirl in your washing machine, (and let’s face it, we’ve all done that at several points in our lives), dirt won’t be the only thing you’d be washing away.
In olden Japan, money was literally the fabric of the nation. During the Heian Period (795-1192), silk fabrics were sometimes used as currency instead of copper coins. Linen was also sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth.
Speaking of linen, the term ‘lingerie’ is actually derived from the French word ‘linge’, meaning linen. Nowadays, lingerie undergarments no longer use linen, and instead use flexible, stretchy material such as nylon, polyester, satin, lace, silk and sheer fabric.
We’ve talked about the most expensive fabric, now let’s bring in the strongest. Cuben is among the strongest and lightest fibers, and is used in making yacht sails, airship hulls and kites. Cuben fiber is a plastic laminate fabric embedded with strongest man-made polyethylene fibers. It is about 50% lighter and 4 times stronger than Kevlar.