The Five Most Expensive Fabrics in the World


Clothing says much about the people who wear it. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that there have been some very prized and thus very expensive fabrics out there. For instance, the Phoenicians used to make a luxurious purple using the dried-up glands of sea snails, which was so valued that purple is still associated with royalty as well as other powerful people in the present time. Nowadays, said color has faded from its previous place of prominence, but there are plenty of fabrics that have managed to step up in its place. Here are five of the most expensive fabrics that can be found out there:

Guanaco Wool

There are just two species that can be found in the genus Lama. One would be the llama, while the other would be the llama’s wild ancestor called the guanaco. Unsurprisingly, this means that the guanaco resembles its domesticated counterpart to a considerable extent, though there are some significant differences as well. One excellent example would be how guanacos have very little color variation, with the result that they tend to range from a light brown to a richer cinnamon with white underneath. Still, guanaco wool is both soft and warm, so much so that it is beaten out by just vicuna wool when it comes to value. This is because a single adult can provide just two to three pounds of wool, which isn’t very much in the grand scheme of things. On top of that, guanacos are not a very common animal, as shown by how Chile has just a single guanaco population in Tierra del Fuego that isn’t considered to be endangered. The result is that a single jacket made out of guanaco wool can sell for a price measured in the low tens of thousands of dollars.

Koigu Kersti Cashmere

Cashmere is a fiber that comes from cashmere goats as well as a number of other goat breeds. It is sometimes called cashmere wool, but the term can be a bit misleading because it invites too much comparison with sheep wool, which is neither as fine nor as soft nor as light nor as insulative. Koigu Kersti cashmere is hand-painted yarn that can sell for $6 to $8 for just 50 grams of the fabric, with the result that clothing made out of the material can be very expensive indeed.

Leopard Furs

The leopard is one of the five species that can still be found in the genus Panthera. For those who are unfamiliar, said genus encompasses the so-called “big cats,” meaning lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, and snow leopards. Sometimes, the term is used for other species such as cougars, cheetahs, and lynxes as well, but it is important to note that these species are not counted as members of the genus Panthera. Regardless, the big cats have not fared so well in the modern era, with the leopard being no exception to this rule. Currently, it is considered to be vulnerable, which is better than endangered but not by much because it indicates a species with very high chances of becoming endangered unless the situation improves. Primarily, the leopard is being threatened by habitat loss, so much so that the species is facing habitat fragmentation and thus population fragmentation. Something that tends to have a very negative effect on species because of the negative effects of inbreeding. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that leopard fur is illegal save under very limited circumstances. Having said that, the ban on the material hasn’t destroyed its value, as shown by how a meter of it can still sell for $8,000. A price that explains much about why poaching remains a very serious problem for the future of the leopard species.

Mulberry Silk

Silk  can encompass a much wider range of fabrics than what interested individuals might have expected. For example, while silk tends to be used in reference to the product of the domestic silkmoth, a wide range of cultures in a wide range of times and places have been known to use silk produced by other species as well. Likewise, while most silk is the product of sericulture, it is interesting to note that the use of wild silk continues on in the present time for various reasons. In any case, mulberry silk is produced by the larvae of domestic silkmoths that have been fed mulberry leaves and nothing but mulberry leaves. Once the larvae has spun their cocoons, they are put in boiling water to kill them so that the fibers of their cocoons can be harvested for spinning into what we call silk. This provides mulberry silk with a number of upsides when compared with its counterparts. First, it is uniform in appearance. Second, it is smoother to the touch. On top of that, mulberry silk possesses the standard upsides of silk, which range from it being 100 percent natural to it being hypoallergenic. Combined, these characteristics mean that mulberry silk can go for $100 per yard, thus making it quite expensive even by silk standards.

Vicuna Wool

People who have seen a picture of a vicuna might notice something of a resemblance to the llama. This should come as no surprise because it is one of the just two wild camelids that can be found in South America, serving as the ancestor to the alpaca in the same way that the guanaco serves as the ancestor of the llama. Moreover, it should be mentioned that alpacas and guanaco can produce sterile but otherwise viable offspring called huarizos, which speaks volumes about their closeness with one another. In any case, vicuna wool is prized because of its warmth, its fineness, and its other admirable properties. Unfortunately, an adult vicuna will produce just 1.1 pounds of vicuna wool over the course of a single year. Moreover, it takes a fair amount of effort, seeing as how the wild animals have to be captured, shorn, and then returned alive. Naturally, this has resulted in initiatives to produce vicuna wool from captive animals, but it remains to be seen how well said initiatives will fare in the times to come.

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