When you think of velvet, your mind should automatically drift off to a luxurious world filled with all the finer things. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that velvet has a history stemming from ancient Chinese dynasties and European nobility. Iraq and Egypt were among the first to begin producing high-quality velvet with Cairo leading the way all the way back from 2000 BC. Because, at the time, the techniques were so complex and time-consuming, fabrics like this were considered extremely high-end and therefore only available to royalty and the very well off.
It wasn’t until the 12th century that velvet made the leap from only clothing to being used to make furniture and upholstered goods. Beginning around 1300, the wealthy began to fill their homes with velvet, as we know it, as a sign of prestige that centered around the Renaissance motif, but it wasn’t long before the use of the fabric shifted to trends dictated by France and Italy. Fast forward to the 1900s and velvet becomes a staple in the worlds of fashion and interiors. On any given runway you might find gowns and suits constructed from velvet materials while Edwardian furniture such as chaise lounges and dining chairs started to turn up and grow in popularity.
What you may not have known is that the term "velvet" actually refers to the weave, not the material. To get technical, Sailrite’s A Guide to Velvet, describes how “velvet is woven as a double cloth on a special loom and the pile yarns are made from an extra set of warp yarns. The cut ends of the pile form tufts on the surface, which give a plush texture when evenly sheared.” While in recent years velvets made from synthetic materials like nylon, polyester and viscose make the fabric more accessible and durable, velvet was originally made of natural animal fibers like silk, wool, and mohair, and also natural fibers like cotton and linen. The finest velvets are said to be made from silk fibers and are still considered precious and subsequently remain very expensive.
Though today velvet goods are mass-produced around the world, we still associate the soft, subtly shiny fabric with wealth, class, and refined taste. Adding velvet accents to your home creates an inspired space that radiates sophistication and can fit into any design aesthetic. Make sure to learn about where your velvet products originate from and familiarize yourself with their history in order to make the perfect selection. One of our featured brands is Pontoglio, who’s velvet pillows are extraordinary and is a brand that carries a rich history of its own dating back to 1883.