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What is Corduroy

Written by shweta

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Corduroy is a textile formed of twisted fibers woven and made to lie parallel to one another which gives the cloth its distinct pattern, which is called a "cord." Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, showing a channel in which the base of the fabric is visible between the crests of the cord called the tufts. Corduroy is in fact something like a ridged form of velvet.Until the 19th century it was mainly used for the clothing of livery and agricultural workers but later it became a common fabric for jackets worn in outdoor sports. During the 20th century it picked up its popularity as a casual fashion garment. Today it is seen in trousers and jackets. It is never in fashion so never out of fashion. Youth, middle aged and the older age people all like to wear the fabric in the mid cold weather where it gives you enough warmth. It is not the fabric of choice for extreme cold conditions.


As a fabric, corduroy is considered quite a durable cloth. Corduroy can be found in trousers, jackets and shirts. There are different variations to the corduroy depending on the width of the cord which is commonly referred to as the size of the "wale". In laymans terms it means the number of ridges of cords in one inch. The lower the "wale" number, the thicker would be the width of the wale (i.e., 6-wale is much thicker than 10-wale). Corduroy’s wale count per inch can vary from as low as 1.5 to high as 20, though traditionally they are somewhere between 10 and 12. Wide wale is more commonly used in trousers while medium to fine wale fabrics are usually used in garments which are worn above the waist.

Corduroy is made by weaving extra sets of fiber into the base fabric to form vertical ridges called wales. The primary types of corduroy are:

Standard wale: 11 wales/inch. It is strong cloth and is available in many colors

Pincord/pinwale: Pincord is the finest cord around with a count more than 15 per inch and it has a feel so soft that it feels like velvet.

Dyed/printed corduroy: Pigment dyes are used to give color to the corduroy. The procedure is simple that a dye is applied on the surface of the fabric after which it is cut and made into the end product. When it is washed during the final phase of manufacturing, the pigment dye tends to wash out in an irregular way, which gives the fabric a vintage look. The color of the garment becomes soft with each wash, and color variation keeps coming up in one fabric to the other.

There are other names used for corduroy. Some alternative names are corded velveteen, elephant cord, pin cord, Manchester cloth and cords.

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