The cotton club

There’s no fabric quite like it – cotton is skin-friendly, fashionable, and works well all twelve months of the year

I T’S GETTING warmer, but it’s still not so hot that you need to start pulling out your skimpy cotton tees. Did you know, though, that cotton- a natural, skin-friendly non-allergic fabric works well all through the year? Cool weather is a time for layering and that’s where cotton scores. Thin, comfortable knits are a great way to stay warm in fluctuating day-night and indoor-outdoor temperatures. Cotton sweaters are light enough for warm afternoons yet snug enough when paired with a light shirt or top. Just peel off a layer when entering a cafe or shopping mall. “I love cottons,” says Tanvi Kapoor, a young executive working with an MNC. “And for all those who suffer from wool allergy cotton is the safest and the best fabric.” WARM COTTON Even for cooler evenings and nights, cotton garments work. Says Agneizska Fijol, manager, South Asia, Cotton Council International, “Easy to care for, light, classic sweaters are a wardrobe staple. Today, sweater dressing is all about cotton knits, sweater coats, generously sized turtlenecks and cowl necks, tunics, long and belted wraps, shapely shrugs and knit sweater dresses.” Also, contrary to popular perception, cotton is fashion friendly too. “As far as I am concerned, cotton is a classic that comes very close to being the perfect fabric. And it is great for Indian designs,” says fashion designer Shalini of Geisha Designs who used plenty of cotton in her winter collection. Shalini’s collection included quilted jackets in cotton besides smart and trendy denim jackets too. She has also experimented with corsets, layered cotton skirts and evening jackets in bright Rajasthani prints and beautiful embroidery Model Indrani Dasgupta, who has walked the ramp for Shalini, prefers cotton throughout the year and feels comfortable wearing cotton quilted jackets rather than woollens. “I personally feel that cotton not only makes you look dignified but also gives you a more classic look than most other fabrics do,” says Indrani. Fashion designer Madhu Jain says that cotton is the only fabric she uses both for casual as well as formal wear, the only dif- ference being that for special occasions, she might wear a signature weave of ikat in different colours. BLEND IT WELL One of the best things about cotton is that it can be easily blended with a variety of fabrics to improve durability as well as counter the problem of wrinkling. Cotton is blended with acrylic to improve durability. And when blended with cotton, wool and viscose improve in both durability and wrinkle resistance. The mixed blend of cotton and viscose used in ‘thermocot’ gives the wearer the much-needed warmth to feel snug. Similarly, these days cotton is being given several finishes in order to add more style and sheen to it. “Cotton fabrics are probably finished in more different ways than any other type of fabric. Some finishes change the look and feel of the cotton fabric, while others add special characteristics such as flame resistance, shrinkage control etc. Several differ- ent finishes may be applied to a single fabric,” explains Ashish Dhir, principal consultant at Technopak, representatives of the Cotton Council in India. So a fluorocarbon finish enables the fabric to repel spills on contact. The finish imparts water repellency and stain resistance as it alters the surface properties of the fabric. And by giving cotton an ammonia finish, one can easily achieve a certain amount of lustre in the fabric. And a silver finish, if added to cotton, combats the problem of microbes that are responsible for causing bad odour in most garments. “If you look at any premium brand segment, you will easily find that the most expensive shirts and even trousers are made out of pure cotton,” says Ashish Dhin “So in a way, cotton is more for the classes and cotton blends are for the masses. The fact that it is so easily available here has affected the popularity of this fabric but abroad it definitely comes into the top segment as it is natural and skin friendly that is wearable throughout the year.” Cottoning on M If you have a sensitive skin or are allergic to synthetics and woollens, cotton is for you. It is hypoallergenic material and especially good for asthmatics. M Cotton innerwear is soft, so it does not irritate the skin or cause static electricity. The ends of cotton fibres are spun very tightly into the yarn to make it a long-lasting fabric. M Cotton is healthy. It absorbs body moisture and evaporates it to the surrounding air, thus allowing your body its natural tendency to breathe – keeping you cool in summer and dry and warm in winter. 5 Cotton can be easily blended with other fibres such as synthetics like polyester or lycra. It can be easily dyed too. M Unlike synthetics, cotton has superior absorbency and a naturally textured surface making it an effective cleanser. Cotton can withstand high temperatures and can be sterilised.