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Cover Story | October 2014

Garmenting: Past, Present and Future

The history of clothing is very intriguing and it is believed that wearing clothing can be traced through genetic analysis on human body traces, to as far as 107,000 years ago.Existence of sewing needles date back to 19,000 BC, while the use of dyed flax were found as far as 36,000 BC. Archaeologists have plenty of evidences to show that weaving was in existence 27,000 years ago and clothing to at least 25,000 years ago. Clothing reflects human history, showing progress in materials availability, mastering of newer technology, culture and society. Clothing in India has always been identified with the diverse ethnicity, geography, climate and cultural traditions of the people of that region. Clothing evolved from simple loincloths to elaborate costumes not only for daily use, but also for festive occasions, rituals and dance performances. India also had a great diversity in terms of fabric weaves, fibers and colours. In the west, traditional clothing consisted of short tunics with belts and visible trousers, hose or leggings. Recognisable fashion was believed to be started in the mid-14th century in Europe. Wool, linen, hemp and silk fabrics were popular during the fifteenth century. The distinction between a full dress (worn on formal occasions) and everyday clothing was seen during the 18th century and as the century progressed the concept of full dress vanished and signaled the era of three-piece suits.Women´s silhouette has also undergone many changes that included side hoops, ornamentation, prints etc.New York was known for its garment industry, producing clothes for slaves working on Southern plantations, sailors and western prosecutors and these goods were generally referred to as ¨slop work¨.

The industrial revolution in the eighteen and nineteenth century had a huge impact on the textile and garment production, marked by the use of steam machines, improved efficiency of water or power, development of machine tools, changeover to coal based processes. Textile production were transformed to mass production and assembly line organisations, further propelled by the invention of commercially viable sewing machines in 1850s by I.M.Singer.The need for thousands of ready-made uniforms for soldiers during the American Civil War (1861-1865) gave birth to the standardised system of sizing for soldiers.´Riveted Denim Pants´, introduced in 1873 by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, later known as Blue Jeans created ripples across the fashion world.Ready-made clothing for women was lagging behind men´s clothing, due to more intricate tailoring demands; but the trend was reversed by 1880s with the focus shifting towards more styles.In the late 1800´s, women working from home, brought about a significant reduction in manufacturing cost of apparel. The inventions of fasteners, hook-and-eye added depth to the apparel and footwear industry.´Clasp locker´ fasteners were used in apparel industry in 1905 and invention of the Zipper in 1913 and Velcro in 1947 contributed to significant changes in the way apparels were manufactured and perceived. USDA initiated a survey on women´s body measurements in 1937, with the participation of more than 15,000 American women, to create a sizing system based on key measurements of the female body, published as the Commercial Standard (CS) 215-58 which was withdrawn in 1983. Today we have different standards.

The inventions of synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon in the 20th century revolutionised the textile and apparel industries. Specialised single needle lock stitch machine, over lock machines, flat lock, fashion maker, button hole making, button stitching, feed-off-the-arm and binding machines ensured efficient workflow and resulted huge benefits for manufacturers. Attachments like zippers, elastics, ribbons, quick change hemmers, right angle trimming folders, cord edge and piping attachment accelerated the industrial production and made the work flow smoother. These form finishers ha

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