Have you ever wondered what the most expensive fabrics in the world are? Here are the top five and a brief dive into what makes them worth top dollar.
Linen is created by weaving the fibers of flax seed plants. A long time ago, weaving linen was done by hand and took hours, which made it a costly fabric fit for kings, queens, and pharaohs. Today, linen is a bit more common, but it can still be expensive. A more affordable modern alternative is linen-like cloth, which looks and feels exactly like linen, among other benefits!
Cashmere has always been a luxurious cloth associated with royalty, but of the many cashmere varieties, baby cashmere is the most costly and extravagant of all. This super fine, super soft cloth is made from fiber produced by baby hircus goats. Each goat only produces 80 grams of fiber in their lifetime, which means that producers of this fabric need to rear an impressive number of baby goats each year.
Lotus Flower Silk
Lotus flower silk, also known as kyar chi, is made from the delicate stem fibers of the padonma kya lotus. It’s only produced in the Inle Lake area of Myanmar (Burma) and a few select Vietnamese villages. It is laborious to harvest—it can take 2 months to gather enough material for one scarf! And it’s equally hard to weave, so it’s no wonder lotus silk clothes cost several hundred dollars each.
Mulberry silk is a silky soft cloth made from the cocoons of the Bombyx mori moth silkworm. This kind of silkworm feasts exclusively on mulberry leaves; its restricted diet gives the resulting cloth a smooth texture and color. If you want to purchase this picky silkworm’s silk, it will set you back $100 a yard!
Also known as “the fiber of God,” vicuña wool is hands down the most expensive fabric in the world. The fiber needed to create this cloth comes from the back and neck of the vicuña sheep, which you can only shear every three years.
Due to a devastating history of poaching and habitat destruction and the vicuña sheep’s endangered status, vicuña wool is only legal to harvest if government-sanctioned, which is a major reason why its availability is so limited. On top of that, the wool is hand-loomed, which takes time and TLC! It can cost upward of $50,000 for just one garment made from vicuña wool.
These luxurious fabrics are costly and hard to get, but many would argue they make up for their sky-high prices with unmatched comfort and beauty.