Back in 1998 CordaRoy's started making original convertible beanbags strictly made of corduroy. Let's take a moment and reflect on this notable fabric we have all come to love.
Corduroy fabric brings with it a sense of soft, nostalgic familiarity. For some of us, it evokes memories of the brainy lit professor clumsily making his way across the campus quad, juggling a beat up old suitcase and a stack of books trying not to slosh coffee on his beloved corduroy jacket with the leather elbow patches. Or perhaps it recollects the memory of a popular children’s story about a curious, lovable bear that lives in the toy department.
Or maybe you wore a pair of corduroy overalls as a kid. Or, perhaps, your uncle’s old corduroy ensemble you were forced to put on for your little sister’s holiday recital because you outgrew your other suit (hey, we aren’t here to judge you, but I think we can all agree that’s one trend worth celebrating the decline of).
No matter what your memory of corduroy is, we all seem to have one. Corduroy is one fabric that has stood the test of time and, for many valued reasons, continues to be popular all around the world.
Although no one person in particular can be credited with the invention of corduroy, we do know that it was made in England sometime in the mid 1700s. First used by kings and noblemen in France, it was deemed the “cloth of the king” for it’s indulgent qualities. It is widely believed that the term “corduroy” derived from a 18th century corruption of the French term “corde du roi”, meaning “cloth of the king”. Others theorize that the term comes from a pairing of the word “cord,” referring to the fabric’s row-like structure, with “duroy,” which was a course wool fabric used in England at the time. No matter where the name was coined, corduroy fabric was the fabric of royalty and the wealthy until the 19th century.
The 19th century was a time of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester, England. With more complex machinery and manpower, corduroy grew in popularity not only because it could be mass-produced, but also because it was the perfect uniform for the workingman. As the prices of cotton decreased, the popularity of corduroy among laborers increased. Once an indulgence for royals, the fabric’s strong and durable properties, along with the warmth it provided, became the coveted and accessible fabric for the working class.
Corduroy continued to remain a popular fabric of choice, largely for uniforms and outdoor wear. In 1918, the new Ford Model T automobile used hardwearing, luxurious corduroy as upholstery.
It wasn’t until the 1960’s, the time of the counter culture movement, that rebellious students and hippies brought corduroy back to the mainstream of fashion again. Corduroy began to compete with denim as a popular fabric for jeans and jackets and eventually became a staple among the uber preppy of the 1980s. The grunge movement of the 1990’s again shifted corduroy’s cultural reach and was most often seen paired with flannel shirts and Doc Martens. As corduroy has made its way from one cultural identity to the next, it continues to rightfully take its place as one of the most widely used fabrics to date.
Corduroy is a textile composed of twisted fibers that, when woven, lie parallel to one another to form the fabric’s distinct raised pattern or “cord.” The weaving process weaves extra sets of fiber into a base fabric to form vertical ridges that are called “wales.” The size of the wale is in reference to the width between each cord.
There’s something about corduroy that makes it warm, comforting, practical, classic and sophisticated all at the same time. Not only is the material ultra durable and resilient, but corduroy’s tufted texture makes it soft and cozy. Another plus? The fabric comes in a variety of colors and, with reasonable care, has a very long life.
It’s safe to say that corduroy has spanned the test of time and earned its respected place as a fabric worth using. We’re crazy about it. And we’re not the only ones. Corduroy Appreciation Day (yes, it’s a real holiday) was founded in 2005. November 11th was chosen for the holiday because the date, when written 11/11, resembles the corded pattern that gives the fabric it’s unique look. The celebrations are conducted by members of the elite society of corduroy enthusiasts, appropriately named the Corduroy Appreciation Club, that are required to attend the days events with at least two pieces of corduroy on. At the honorary festivities, it’s not unusual to see three-piece corduroy suits or even corduroy capes (yes…capes) being worn. It’s just that rad.