What Is the History of Silk Production?


The earliest example of silk fabric comes from China when it was used in a child’s tomb to wrap the body. China dominated the silk industry for many years, and initially the material was reserved for the Emperor. The Chinese used silk as a form of currency, and cost was measured in lengths of silk. The Silk Road, which connected industries from the East to the West, was a popular trading route named for the material, and that region of the world, still maintains the name today.

Eventually silk production moved to Korea, Thailand, India, and Europe. The material finally made its way to the U.S. in the seventeenth century. King James I introduced silk to the colonies, but many of the country’s early settlers couldn’t afford the material. Patterson, New Jersey and Manchester, Connecticut both became centers of silk production in the United States, until the trade and production was disrupted by World War II, leading to the creation of synthetic fabrics like nylon.