As a luxury fabric silk is surprisingly practical. It’s one of the strongest natural fibres, it’s absorbent making it great for warm weather or active wear, but has a low conductivity meaning that it keeps warm air close to the skin and keeps you warm in cool weather. It feels great against the skin, making it perfect for underwear, but it’s beautiful soft sheen makes it suitable for evening wear or making beautiful blouses and shirts.
I first really fell in love with silk when one of my first boyfriends had a deep blue silk shirt, I loved the soft fuzzy sheen on the surface of the fabric and the way it moved, and eventually it assimilated itself into my wardrobe (Ok, I stole it, but it was really nice)
Recently commercially produced silk has received criticism from animal rights campaigners as its production involves either boiling the pupae before the adult moths emerge or piercing them with a needle, this allows the casing to be unravelled in one go, producing longer fibres and a smoother fabric. Wild silk is made from Pupae gathered after the pupae have hatched and is therefore considered less cruel, but also produces shorter fibres as the pupae is broken.
Whether silk is ethical or not is a complex question, there are many different types of silk, produced in many different ways. Silk produced in small rural communities is by it’s nature sustainable, but that produced by large commercial factories might not be.
As with any fabric you must decide the extent of your own ethics when purchasing clothing made of silk. Buying recycled or pre owned clothing, searching out wild or organic silks or silks from smaller producers are all ways to ensure that you minimise the environmental and ethical impact of your silk purchase.
For cruelty free silks look for wild silk on Fashion Conscience.com where you can find beautiful pieces like this cream and pink print dress, it doesn’t come cheap at £205, but it’s beautiful and your conscience can rest in peace.
Or this gorgeous “peace silk” vest from Quail by Mail