September 01, 2021
Renovating the Silk Road
Nature's most seductive fiber has been around for millennia - once reserved for nobility and more valuable than gold, sericulture is now a 16 billion dollar global industry. The United States is a major importer of silk today, with the majority of production in China, Japan and India. With it's legendary drape and luster, silk undoubtedly lives in your wardrobe - but how did it get there?
Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm caterpillar, native to the Far East. The silkworm secretes one continuous strand of saliva which hardens into a protective shell, or cocoon, during the worm's metamorphosis into a moth. The harvesting of this cocoon determines the style - and ethics - of the fabric.
Conventional silk is produced by boiling these cocoons - worm and all - so as to unravel the fiber in one long continuous filament, achieving it's signature smooth texture. Silkworms are known to be super sensitive to temperature and light - like all sentient beings, they produce endorphins and have a physical response to pain. To create just one silk dress requires around 1,500 cocoons.
Sericulture has long been criticized by animal activists, including Gandhi, leading to the promotion of Ahimsa (non-violent) silk, also known as wild, peace, or Tussah silk. Ahimsa silkworms are raised in their natural environment, living and eating on their own schedule without manipulation, and allowed to emerge unharmed from their cocoon as moths. This natural escape breaks the continuous silk strand of the cocoon, creating a texture called "slub," a premium characteristic of wild silk.
Because of the happy, natural diet of wild silkworms, the fibers they produce are more durable and resistant than conventional silk. Wild silk is minimally processed without chemicals and rarely dyed or bleached - safer for workers, wearers and world. All sericulture is still labor-intensive and a product of animal life, so the "less, but better" approach, along with choosing peaceful alternatives, is still most sustainable!
"There is no beauty in the finest cloth
if it makes hunger and unhappiness."
- Mahatma Gandhi
Shop Ahimsa Silk Styles Here: