Jute in the crown: V&A explores fabric of India’s historic garment trade

The exhibition focuses on the historical and ongoing importance of textile to the economy of India. It traces the origins of India’s natural plant fibres and dyes, through to its place as the world’s largest exporter of fabrics across the globe, trading with China, Africa and the Middle East long before Vasco da Gama claimed […]

Experience: I mine for 100-year-old jeans

Out in the desert in California, Nevada and Arizona, there are abandoned silver mines like buried time capsules, virtually untouched, and you can find vintage bottles down there that are worth a lot to collectors. But as I searched for them, I kept coming across these scraps of denim, because jeans, especially Levi’s, were worn […]

The Fabric of India: Victoria and Albert Museum

I took the opportunity to visit this exhibition at the V&A recently and it is really very good. A far cry from the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition in the same rooms last summer. And yet, for all its quiet unassuming nature in many ways this is the more appealing. Less about spectacle and more […]

The innovators: how tiny amounts of wind energy could light up Africa

The plastic sheets have slivers of bendable filaments that stand up and are moved by gusts of air. The filaments, which are encased in plastic, work using the piezoelectric effect – the ability of some materials to generate a charge in response to pressure. In this case, when the filaments are moved by gusts of […]

Metaphor map charts the images that structure our thinking

The Map also uncovers some revealing metaphorical clusters, such as the number of links between textiles and social structure. We describe social networks in terms of weaving and spinning; something is defined as “tweedy” if it is rustic, or “chintzy” if petit bourgeois. Textiles also influence the way that we talk about imagination: we “spin […]

So how do you make snakeskin handbags environmentally friendly?

Leading the list of environmentally damaging practices is the production of leather, linked to the destruction of forestry and use of heavy metals, and cotton, which is hugely demanding of water. Kering’s EP&L estimates that leather alone accounts for 25% of its environmental impact, while 17% is linked to cotton. Overall, Kering announced, supply-side damage […]