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All About Velvet (and why you need it in your home)

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With a history of being used an expression of power, wealth, and taste, velvet has come a long way since its early beginnings. From luxury upholstered lounges to designer clothing, velvet continues to be the upmarket material of choice.

What is velvet?

Derived from the Middle French velu meaning ‘shaggy’, velvet is a pile weave of silk, cotton, rayon, viscose or synthetic fibres typically characterised by its downy texture.

Known for its distinctive short pile, velvet is commonly woven as double cloth before being cut to produce two pile fabrics - the most expensive of which is silk velvet. It is the longest pile compared to velour and velveteen, and can be made either water-repellent or crush-resistant.

What is the origin of velvet?

With its first recorded mention dating back to the 14th century, many believe velvet was originally produced in East Asia.

Further evidence suggests that velvet was commonly used in the Middle East, and was particularly popular within royalty circles between the borders of modern day Iraq and Iran.

Soon, velvet made its way to Europe via the Silk Road, by which time the Italians and Spanish excelled at producing patterned velvet textiles between the years 1400 and 1600.

The history of velvet

Over time, velvet has been used for an array of reasons, including decoration, necessity and sentimentality.

During the Italian Renaissance, velvet and other specially woven fabrics were used to display the family coat-of-arms and other symbolic motifs associated with a family’s reputation. It was also a common textile used in secular dress, religious vestments, and interior design.

Velvet became far less expensive to produce when machine looms were invented, meaning that velvet and silk became even more accessible to all levels of society. As a result, while velvet is still considered a luxury fabric, it is now highly affordable and widely available.

Today, velvet is commonly used in the creation lavish curtains, throw pillows, luxury bedding and blankets, children’s stuffed animals, and other items where an extremely soft and refined texture is required.

What are the various types of velvet?

Over the years, velvet production has adapted to include a variety of offshoot fabrics. The two most popular varieties include chiffon velvet: an ultra-sheer form of velvet used in formal garments and evening-wear; and crushed velvet: a texture achieved by twisting or pressing the fabric when wet.

Other types of velvet include:

  • Embossed velvet
  • Hammered velvet
  • Lyons velvet
  • Panne velvet
  • Utrecht velvet
  • Voided velvet
  • Ring velvet

Velvet Fabric Certifications

Fabric certifications may be awarded to a velvet fabric product, depending on the material used. Some of the world’s leading silk consultants and regulators include:

Silk Mark

As the leading authority on silk sustainability and quality, Silk Mark are known to ensure that companies follow correct cultural, environmental, and humanitarian protocols in their development of silk they produce. Silk Mark is an independent organisation, established under the premise that silk production forms a central part of India’s foundation, and ensures its continued presence in Indian life.

Global Recycled Standard (GRS)

Certifying synthetic textiles that are proven to contain only recycled materials, the GRS provides synthetic material certifications to silk manufacturers who follow regulations pertaining to sustainability.

To this day, velvet remains one of the most desirable fabrics on the market. Due to its lavish history, decadent appearance, soft and indulgent texture and certainly its affordability in modern day society, velvet is the much sought-after material for luxury furniture pieces.

Whether it’s an upholstered chaise lounge, a luxury bed, or generously padded armchair, Grand Living can accommodate your velvet needs.

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