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Clothing materials are plentiful, and garments can be made from a single type of material or an assortment. Natural materials include furs, leather, and cotton cloth. Man-made materials include polyester, Nylon®, and Spandex®. Less-common materials include hemp, rubber, and jute. Duct tape and recycled paper have even joined the ever-expanding arena of materials that can be used to make clothing.
Cotton has been used to make textiles for centuries. Denim jeans, which are made from cotton twill, have been produced since the late 1800s, and cotton fabrics continue to be a mainstay when it comes to clothing. A thinner cotton material called seersucker has a bumpy texture that prevents it from hugging the skin when worn. It is primarily used for summer-weight clothing and typically features a striped pattern.
Leather has served as a material for clothing since humanity's earliest days. Made from the top layer of an animal hide, leather can be dyed, cut, and sewn similar to cloth fabric. The advantage in using leather as a material for certain garments is its ability to breathe, its durability, and its resistance to heat and cold. While the top layer of hide is used to produce leather, lower layers are used to produce lesser quality materials, such as suede. Suede is similar to leather in many ways, but it is a less durable and more supple material.
Rubber is used to make a variety of clothing, including dresses, leggings, and bodysuits. Duct tape can even be used to create clothing, with everything from flip-flops to prom dresses being made from the product. A full line of clothing made from hemp is also available, including skirts, cargo shorts, and hoodies.
Corduroy, which is a rigid velvet material, is typically used for making trousers and jackets. Wool fabrics are bulky and retain heat, making them suitable for cold weather apparel. Animal furs, such as rabbit, mink and fox, are also clothing materials that provide warmth for the wearer. Typically, furs used to make clothing are leather with the hair left intact.
Spandex® is a synthetic material known for its superior elasticity qualities. When it is used to make clothing or costumes, it is typically combined with other fibers, such as polyester or cotton. As Spandex's® ability to hug and move with the body, it is often the fabric of choice for competitive swimwear, dance outfits, and wetsuits.
Polyester is a man-made, synthetic material. Clothing materials from polyester offer high color retention, durability, and increased wrinkle resistance as compared to their natural fiber counterparts. The feel of the natural and synthetic fabrics, however, is significantly different and some people may prefer the feel of one type of material over another.