The fabric and textile industry is the most leading industry in the world today. The use of cloth in today's world is more than ever. Today we use fabric for everything, starting from bed sheets to grand piano covers. Yet, before we started dressing our piano with a grand piano cover, it was the human body itself which was covered and decorated with clothes.
It is said that the earliest of men used to cover themselves with leaves and animal skin. Even in those times, clothes very much represented a social standing, as the mightiest and strongest men wore the skin of the wildest beasts. Archaeological evidences prove the use of clothing and textile as early as 170,000 years ago. The clothes at that time were wrapped and tied around the body rather than stitched in a proper manner. However, the very first sewing needles found are of about 40,000 years ago. This suggests that people started to stitch their clothes by that time, and this fact also leads to an assumption that some kind of fiber was already discovered.
The date of the earliest fiber use and discovery is disputed yet, but archaeologists have found a strand of dyed flax fiber in a cave in Georgia. This strand of dyed fiber dates back to 36,000BP. A 25,000 years old statue of Venus is the very first figurine of anyone depicted with clothing. Clothing includes all the accessories such as hat and belts. Well made sewing needles and weaving sticks belonging to the same era were also discovered in Eastern and Western Europe.
It is assumed that the very first fabric to be used was felt, but it was a bit rougher than today's felt. The woven textile however, is Flax. It was cultivated in the Near East around 8000 BC. The cultivation and usage of cotton as a clothing was common in the Indus Valley civilization in around 4000BC. Around the same time, linen was also produced in ancient Egypt. Many weaving techniques and tools were invented in Egypt during these times. Usage of linen was so much in Egypt that ancient Egyptians even used it in mummification of their dead. All of these facts are very eminent from the art depictions of those times.
The Chinese are known to have invented the silk fiber around 3000BC. Traces of silk are found from different historic sites in China. Due to the invention of Silk in China and the production of cotton on the Indus River, the trade of textile and fabric was very common on the Silk Road. This quickly made clothing sewed out of weaved fabric a common necessity around the world.
During the classical ages, the most fashionable kind of clothing in the west was tunics and togas worn by Greeks and Romans. However, it was in the medieval times that fashion became an essential element of society and class. People started to wear different cloths according to their social ranks and standing. The finest fashion was for the lords and socialites, while peasants and the poor used to wear plain clothes.
Then, came the Middle Ages when fashion was something that everyone was following, and the fact is still the same. Clothing is not only a necessity now, but a lot more than that. It well defines a person's overall personality and it is pretty much enough to change that too.