Clothes are garments that cover the body and protect the wearer from the elements. They are made of natural or synthetic fibers, such as cotton, rayon, or polyester. These garments can also provide a physical barrier against infectious materials such as viruses and bacteria.
Different cultures have different ways of making clothes. Some cultures have traditionally made clothing from skins or furs, while others use animal or plant materials. For example, traditional Hawaiian societies have only permitted their chiefs to wear feather cloaks. Other cultures have specialized in clothing that helps protect the wearer from rain or the sun.
In modern society, clothes are often used to signal social status. By purchasing expensive or rare items, the wearer is able to show others that they are important. However, many clothing workers are forced to work under extreme conditions without adequate air and water. Workers also breathe in blasted sand and fiber dust, which can be toxic.
As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the textile industry mechanized and the manufacturing process changed. New types of cloth were invented, such as nylon, which replaced silk. Until the 1980s, people usually bought new clothes only once or twice a year. During the 1950s, Americans spent about ten percent of their income on clothes. Today, the average American throws away 37kg of clothes each year.
Clothes are a vital part of the human body’s defense against the sun, cold, and wind. Wearing clothing can keep the body safe from infectious material, such as flu viruses, while also insulating the body from the heat of the sun. Clothing can also help the wearer stay safe from noxious chemicals, such as chlorine. It can also be a tool for protecting the body from abrasive substances, such as sand, dirt, and mud.
Clothing is also a means of expression, and its form can be determined by the individual wearer. For example, a person might wear a t-shirt, which is a short sleeved knit top. Or a person might wear a shell suit, which has a zippered top and jogger style pants.
The human body sheds skin cells and feces, which can make it hard to wash. A fabric seat is more sanitary and less wasteful than disposables, but a cloth diaper is harder to clean.
Today, the fashion system manufactures clothes for very short periods of time. In the past, people wore clothing for much longer. Traditionally, a human culture would wrap the skin of a dead animal, such as a goat, or a tree leaf, and then sew it into a garment. Later, wool was woven into fabric in Egypt.
Although the process of producing clothing has gotten more efficient in recent years, the effects of the production on the environment are often overlooked. An estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles are discarded worldwide each year, equivalent to a rubbish truck full of clothes ending up in landfill sites every second. And clothing manufacturers have an immense responsibility in keeping their supply chain transparent.