Clothing is anything that a person wears on their body. It’s typically made of fabric but has also been made from animal skin, thin sheets of material, and natural products. People have been wearing clothing for thousands of years, and the evolution of clothing is fascinating. It is used for many purposes, from keeping warm to promoting beauty.
Today, globalization has reduced the price of clothing, and many consumers are able to afford more disposable items. This trend has also led to poor working conditions for garment workers. Several emerging economies have entered the apparel industry, and many clothing is produced in poor conditions. These countries are increasingly producing clothing for consumers and exporting them to the United States.
In addition to their practical purposes, clothing also has social and environmental functions. It protects the body from the sun, noxious chemicals, and weapons, and communicates social messages. It also serves as adornment and can be used to express a person’s personal tastes. For example, a man wearing a long coat may want to dress like a woman.
In some societies, clothes indicate status or rank. For instance, the Roman emperor wore purple to show his rank, while high-ranking Hawaiian chiefs wore feather cloaks and carved whale teeth. But this doesn’t mean that everyone can afford such expensive garments, and people who do may be vulnerable to social ostracism.
Clothing has changed dramatically throughout the centuries. In ancient times, it was made of animal skins and plant materials. However, textiles began to be made of man-made fibers around the middle of the 19th century, when the industrial revolution took place. Until then, clothing production was carried out by hand. The use of different materials and techniques changed over time, mainly because of wealth and culture.
Today, modern technical materials are used for clothing that has specialized functions. They are used for protection from the weather, moisture removal, and warmth. Many modern materials are developed through R&D, including nylon, polyester, cotton, graphene, wool, and aerogel. These new materials allow designers to create unique pieces that meet specific functional requirements.
Clothing can also be categorized according to sex, age, and culture. Men’s clothes are typically more practical and can be worn in many situations. Women have traditionally worn separate clothing from men. Some cultures also distinguish their men and women according to the materials used and the styles and colors of their clothing. For example, women wear a skirt whereas men wear a shirt.
Nowadays, the manufacturing of clothing has created environmental problems. Several types of chemicals are released into the environment during the production of clothing. The most common of these is polyester, which is made from petroleum. The production of this material is an energy-intensive process that releases acid gases and particulate matter. One of the main concerns is that the chemicals used for producing polyester are hazardous to human health.