Behind the Fabric: Silk


The world’s most luxurious fabrics play a key part in our range here at Sunspel, with a collection that focuses on making beautiful, everyday clothing that feels wonderful to wear. And what fabric signifies pure luxury more than silk? But there’s more than just opulence to this particular fabric.

One of the strongest natural fibres in existence, silk is naturally hypoallergenic and incredibly versatile, having been used in everything from sleepwear and formal gowns to parachutes and medical sutures. It’s also a naturally self-adjusting fabric, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and due to its low density it can absorb as much as a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp.


The History of Silk

Silk was first developed in ancient China, with the earliest example found in tombs at the Neolithic site Jiahu in Henan, dating back 8,500 years.

Originally reserved for the sole use of the Chinese Emperors, silk gradually spread through Chinese culture and trade both geographically and socially.

For many years the Chinese were bent on keeping their silk-cultivating knowledge a secret, and anyone who was caught passing on information or smuggling silkworms out of the country would be put to death. Legend has it the secret finally escaped via a Chinese princess sent to marry a foreign prince who hid cocoons in her elaborate hairdo.

Once it reached the outside world silk proved wildly popular, with trade routes developing from China to the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. In fact, it grew so extensive that the major routes between Europe and Asia became known as the Silk Road.

Sunspel & Silk

However the secret to silk reached the world, we’re very glad it did. Sunspel has a long history of working with silk, having used it in our collections since the early 20th century. Delicate, natural, and soft on the skin, it still makes the perfect addition to our womenswear range; whether blended with fine wool or standing alone in the form of elegant slip dresses and sophisticated sleepwear sets.

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