As an ever-changing subject of study, clothes have fascinated people for ages. One interesting change has been the gradual inclusion of elasticity in clothing. Few people realize that there was a good chunk of modern history where comfortable and stretchy clothing was not a widespread commodity. The history of elastic in clothing is a story of study that coincides with many inventions and industries.
Rubber has been around for centuries in various forms. The earliest form was harvested from the bark of the rubber tree and used by the ancient Mayans to bind items together. In 1820, Thomas Hancock invented the masticator for his rubber business in Britain.
This machine revolutionized the industry, as it enabled manufacturers to recycle rubber from larger forms. Hancock would go on to create some of the first worn uses of elastic with his line of fastening straps for gloves, stockings, suspenders, and shoes. Today’s elastic is most often synthetic and came about after the technological revolution introduced the process of vulcanizing.
The history of elastics in clothing has been a long and quiet process that was undertaken by many hands across the years. In addition to Thomas Hancock, a few other individuals have had a major impact on the elastics industry. In 1791 Samuel Peal worked on versions of waterproof clothing that utilized layers of rubber, as did Charles Macintosh in 1823.
Through the natural process of invention, painting rubber onto cloth gradually gave way to building fibers of elastic into cloth. The first form was likely braided elastic, which most people will recognize as the typical stretch cord that is often inside a garment. This idea would then be adapted into many different weaving styles—our specialty at Sheships being the knitted elastic band!
Today, clothing designers are always on the hunt for the next form elastics will take. The methods currently in use are always being perfected to maximize comfort. Besides knitted and braided forms, elastics used in the garment are already widely varied and can change depending on what style best matches each piece. Other styles include woven, clear, folded, lace, and plush-backed elastic. Each is designed to have different levels of durability and comfort depending on the amount of skin contact a band may receive.
At Sheships, we love two things: helping other businesses succeed and getting the perfect elastic supplies to passionate clothes designers. We offer a wide array of affordable shipping goods at a price that’s perfect for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Our elastics are top quality and provide the perfect comfortable fit. Call us today to talk about your knitted elastic and wholesale shipping needs.