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How the cotton industry changed fashion forever

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

If slavery was the corner stone of the Confederacy, cotton was its foundation. At home its social and economic institutions rested upon cotton; abroad its diplomacy centered around the well-known dependence of Europe…upon an uninterrupted supply of cotton from the southern states.

Frank L. Owsley Jr

Cotton holds a unique place in history, evolving from being more highly valued than silk and wool in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to becoming an everyday, comfort-oriented textile in contemporary apparel worldwide.

Cotton fibre can be woven or knitted into fabrics such as velvet, corduroy, chambray, velour, jersey and flannel. In addition to textile products like underwear, socks and t-shirts, cotton is also used in fishnets, coffee filters, book binding and archival paper. Cotton is a food AND a fibre crop. Cotton seed is fed to cattle and crushed to make oil. This cottonseed oil is used for cooking and in products like soap, margarine, emulsifiers, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics.


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