Currently, there are numerous types of fabrics available in the markets, which can make buyers confused when choosing the best type. However, this depends on the intended use of the fabric, as each type falls into three main categories in the local markets: natural fabrics, synthetic fabrics, and imported fabrics. Each fabric type has its own unique features and applications. For example, Egyptian cotton stands out in the production of underwear, while wool is favored for winter clothing. Synthetic fabrics, like nylon, excel in the production of sportswear. In this article, we will gather a lot of information about different types of fabrics, their characteristics, and uses, so that you can have some ideas that will help you when purchasing any type of fabric.
First, let’s talk about natural fabrics
Natural fabrics are those made entirely from animal or plant fibers and have been used since ancient times. Some of the most well-known types include:
- Cotton: It is the most widely used fabric around the world, and one of its most famous and finest types is Egyptian cotton. Cotton fabric is widely used in the fashion industry and woven garments, as it is highly suitable for summer.
- Silk: Another natural fabric of animal origin. It is derived from silkworms and is considered one of the most expensive fabrics due to its limited supply in the market. Silk has a smooth and shiny texture that reflects light, making it eye-catching. It is used in the production of luxurious clothing and accessories.
- Wool: It is a lightweight, soft, strong, and durable fabric known for its wrinkle resistance. It absorbs moisture and sweat, provides warmth in cold weather, and is widely used in carpet manufacturing, blankets, and woolen clothing.
- Linen: Linen is one of the strongest plant fibers in nature. It is a lightweight and refreshing fabric with high absorbency. It is easy to sew due to its high mechanical resistance and low elasticity. Linen is used in producing clothing for warm regions, such as pants, skirts, shirts, and suits.
- Jute: Jute is the second most important plant fiber after cotton. It is primarily used in fabric production for packaging raw cotton bales, as well as making bags and coarse fabrics. Jute fiber is also used in curtains, chair covers, carpets, and floor coverings.
- Sisal: It is a tough and non-flexible natural fiber used in the fashion industry. Sisal is primarily used in furniture, automotive, and marine industries and is often combined with other materials. It is also used in small proportions, coupled with other fibers, to manufacture accessories and home decor items.
- Cashmere: It is a luxurious and expensive type of natural fabric used to make extremely warm garments due to its great thermal properties. Cashmere is used to create high-quality sweaters, shawls, and scarves. The strongest cashmere is used for manufacturing high-quality carpets and rugs.
Next, let’s discuss synthetic fabrics
Synthetic fabrics are manufactured by artificial processes using chemical and industrial operations. Both raw materials and spinning processes are artificial, providing them with greater diversity and lower production costs compared to natural fabrics. They are often created to meet specific needs and are known for their strength, durability, and easy maintenance. Some common examples of synthetic fabrics are:
- Rayon: It is a semi-synthetic fabric made from reshaped wood pulp. The manufacturing process involves various chemical processes that transform cellulose compound into a viscous liquid used to produce artificial fibers. Rayon can mimic the appearance of silk, which is why it is also called artificial silk. It is used in the production of inner and outerwear for women, sportswear, and some varieties of gabardine fabrics.
- Nylon: Nylon is a synthetic fiber that was invented in 1935. It is one of the best and finest synthetic fabrics still widely used in various sectors, including clothing manufacturing such as women’s stockings, swimwear, sportswear, windbreakers, and ski pants. It is also used in the medical field, sewing, special screens, and fishing nets.
- Polyester: Polyester is one of the most common fabrics worldwide due to its ease of production, low cost, and price. It is a synthetic fabric made from coal and oil. Polyester fabrics are known for their durability, non-breathability, and poor liquid absorption, so they are not recommended for hot summer months. Polyester is used in the production of clothing, bags, medical and sports equipment.
- Acrylic: Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from polymers of acrylonitrile or vinyl cyanide. Acrylic is often considered an imitation of wool due to its heat-retention properties. It is used in clothing manufacturing, such as shirts and other women’s fashion, as well as in the production of chair covers and sofas.
- Viscose: Viscose is an artificial fabric obtained from natural cellulose through chemical and mechanical processes. It shares many properties with silk but can also be produced as a basic material blended with wool and cotton. Viscose is commonly used in the fashion industry, including shirts and other women’s clothing.
- Satin: Satin has historically been one of the most elegant fabrics, known for its extremely shiny surface and smoothness, similar to silk.
- Lycra or Elastane: These are widely used synthetic fabrics due to their extreme stretchability, providing comfort when used. Lycra is often blended with other fibers to give them additional stretch. Lycra fabrics are used in everything from jeans to sportswear to socks.
Finally, let’s touch on imported fabrics
No country is capable of producing all types of fabric, and even if it could, there might be others that excel in terms of quality or production capacity. Therefore, countries tend to import certain types of fabrics from limited countries based on market demand. Each country may specialize in exporting a specific fabric type. For example, the finest types of silk are imported from India, while cheaper manufactured fabrics are imported from China, and the best ones from Taiwan. Egypt and Morocco top the list of countries that export high-quality fabrics. Imported fabrics are in high demand due to their diversity and varied designs, unlike locally produced fabrics, which tend to be more standardized.