Textile’s Evolution: From Animal Skins to Smart Heating Textiles

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Textiles have a long history, and even though their purpose has been the same for years, to keep us warm, they have woven together human ingenuity, survival and today technological innovation. From the early days when our ancestors relied on animal skins for warmth to the present day when smart heating garments redefine our experience with cold weather, the evolution of textiles highlights our non-stop pursuit of comfort and efficiency.

Animal skins & our ancestors

In prehistoric times, survival was the primary concern. Early humans had to look for the most easy and efficient way to protect themselves from the harsh elements. Even though this way of warmth today is very restricted and fundamental on environmental standards, at that time they provided essential insulation and protection to the civilization.

Discovery of plant fibers and weaving techniques

As human societies evolved, so did their methods of creating textiles. First, human realized that a domestication of sheep provided a source of wool to create a protective textile, while flax and cotton plants were cultivated for linen and cotton fabrics respectively. 

Okay, they had the material, but now how do they create the fabric?

Well, it was the invention of the spinning wheel and the loom during the Middle Ages that further revolutionized textile production, making it faster and more efficient. At the end, these material were easier to work with and offered greater comfort and versatility than animal skins.

Industrial revolution and the start of synthetics materials

The industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries was a key element in this journey. With the mechanization of machines, such as the spinning and weaving machine, there was a never seen increase in production rates and a reduction of fabrics’ costs. Whereas at the time one piece was made per hour, during this century it was possible to make ten, making textiles more accessible to the general population.

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This era also saw the introduction of synthetic dyes, which expanded the color palette available to textile manufacturers. 

Time goes by and people’s need change and increase. During the 20th century, people were no longer just looking for warmth and color style, they were now looking for elasticity, durability and resistance to water and stains. The invention of Gore-Tex in the 1970s introduced a new level of functionality by creating breathable yet waterproof fabrics, revolutionizing outdoor experience and sportswear.

The new era of textiles

Functional clothing is what can describe the most of this era. People are now demanding smarter clothing, capable of responding to an important need of use. Today, smart heating elements represent a cutting edge of textile innovation. 

As we saw at the beginning, people’s main concern is the need of warmth. Today, thanks to smart heating technologies, we can incorporate sensors that monitor body temperature and environmental conditions in order to communicate with a control unite, which adjusts the heating elements accordingly. This ensures optimal comfort and battery efficiency, providing warmth only when and where it is needed.

What’s coming up in the next few years?

The evolution of textile is far from over. Advances in nanotechnology, smart fabrics and sustainable materials, promise to put in a new era of textiles that are not only more functional but also environmentally friendly. 

From the simplicity of animal skins to smart heating garments, the story of textiles is a testament to human creativity and our solid quest for comfort. As we continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what textiles can do, one thing is certain: the fabrics of the future will keep us warmer, more comfortable, and more connected than ever before.