A vegetable fibre collected from the cotton plant. It has been used for over 7000 years to make cloth. It withstands high temperatures and can therefore be boiled and hot pressed. It is abrasion resistant and gains 10% in strength when wet.
Cotton accounts for more than 40% of the total world fibre production. As early as the first century AD, Plinius spoke in his The World, Naturalis Historia about ‘wool bearing trees’ from Egypt.
These trees grew pumpkin-like fruits the size of quinces. Once fully ripe, they would tear open to reveal balls of fluff, which was eventually used to make clothes. They named the tree gossypinim (cotton tree).
Despite this early reference, cotton did not reach Italy and Northern Europe until late 16th century. See also ‘Staple’.
Source: Nouvelle de Nîmes Nº 5: The Denim Dictionary