September 14, 2023

Ever since saccharine was sold to the US Army in the Great War as a cheap substitute for natural sugar, there has been a debate about the virtues of the synthetic over the natural. Nylon was introduced by another great American firm to satisfy the military’s need for vast quantities of silk. Polyester followed along with the vast herds of nauga from which the naugahyde was skinned.

Synthetic fabrics are reputed for their durability, their consistency and at least above certain volumes their cost advantage. Does that mean they ought to be used for clothing?

Natural silk is one of the most efficient insulating fabrics by weight there is. Today silk production in the men’s wardrobe is hardly appreciated beyond the neckwear segment. Yet as a lining or even as an outer shell there is no lighter material for warmth and comfort.

Cotton is by far the most easily laundered fabric. However it also is easy to work, too. It breathes almost like the skin of the person wearing it.

Wool flannel was once the mainstay of the cricketer’s kit. Now whether for the infamous Indian “pajamas” or the “whites” for test matches, polyester weaves reign. The trade off between a nearly unrippable pair of cricket pants and the seemingly more vulnerable flannels is simple and disagreeable. While the polyester does not tear it transfers the abrasive force to the skin which does.

Industrial products have their place- in industry. As long the gentleman or lady remains a natural element in the human environment, the fibers that hold and protect them best will be those Nature herself provides.

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