What are luxury fabrics?
How to recognize and care for garments of luxury fabric
Luxury fabrics offer the finest in soft, flexible material for clothing, sheets, and home furnishings. But what are luxury fabrics?
The term luxury fabrics is difficult to precisely define because luxury is a subjective classification. However, luxury fabrics do often share a few characteristics. They usually feel soft against the skin and inviting to the touch. Luxury fabrics are usually natural fabrics, as opposed to man-made or artificial fabrics. The process of cultivating, growing and/or harvesting the fibers for luxury fabrics makes them more expensive than man-made textiles. These fabrics typically do not appear in bargain stores because they usually cost more than similar fabrics. Luxury fabrics, especially cashmere clothing, often require special care and cleaning.
Types of Luxury Fabric
You can also look at materials people might name in answer to the question, "What are luxury fabrics?" Materials that retailers commonly classify as "luxury" include silk, cashmere, velvet, and sometimes Egyptian cotton. However, there is no standard that governs which fabrics belong inside or outside this category.
Silk is a fiber produced by some insects for spinning their cocoons. This fiber is collected and dyed to create fabrics for fine garments and home furnishings.
Cashmere comes from the undercoat of the cashmere goat. After the fiber is spun into a fine yarn, it is used to knit sweaters, dresses, scarves, shawls, and socks. Women's cashmere forms the bigger part of the market because women wear all these items, but men's cashmere also sells in the form of sweaters and socks.
Velvet can actually be made of several materials, including silk, wool, and nylon. Its distinguishing characteristic is a short, soft nap on one side of the fabric (unlike the equally smooth surfaces on both sides of cashmere or regular silk fabric).
Caring for Luxury Fabrics
If your answer to "what are luxury fabrics?" is "everything in my closet," and you own some fine garments of those materials, you will need to know how to care for your clothing.
Follow the instructions on the tags or consult the manufacturers to learn about caring for your fine garments. Fabric, as well as clothing fabrication, will determine the care of your garment. You should follow instructions specific to your garments before you pursue any general advice. However, you can generally count on dry-cleaning or hand-washing your silk and cashmere clothing.
You want to avoid heat and harsh agitation, which can shrink cashmere or damage delicate silks. Only use mild detergents when you wash your luxury fabrics at home.
If your washing machine contains a hand-wash setting, that is usually gentle enough to handle washable luxury fabrics. Otherwise, you can gently knead your clothing in a sink of lightly soapy water. Try not to wring the fine garments, but do squeeze out excess water. Change the water and rinse the garment. Squeeze out excess water again. If you need to repeat this process, do so until you have removed the soap from your clothing.
If you experience difficulty removing water at the end of the washing process, you can lay the garment on a bath towel, roll up the towel and press down. Unroll the towel and remove the clothing to dry.
Plan to air-dry fine garments. If you must use an iron, use low heat settings which are appropriate for your material. Modern irons indicate what setting is appropriate for each material.