History of clothing
Main article: History of Clothing
Prior to the invention of clothing, mankind existed in a state of nudity.
The earliest clothing probably consisted of fur, leather, leaves or grass, draped, wrapped or tied about the body for protection from the elements. Knowledge of such clothing remains inferential, since clothing materials deteriorate quickly compared to stone, bone, shell and metal artifacts. Archeologists have identified very early sewing needles of bone and ivory, from about 30,000 B.C., found near Kostenki, Russia in 1988.
Mark Stone, an anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, has conducted a genetic analysis of human body lice that shows they first evolved only 72,000 ± 42,000 years ago. Since most humans have very sparse body hair, body lice require clothing to survive, so this suggests a surprisingly recent date for the invention of clothing. Its invention may have coincided with the spread of modern Homo sapiens from Africa, thought to have begun between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.
Some human cultures, like the various peoples of the Arctic Circle, until recently made their clothing entirely of furs and skins, cutting clothing to fit and decorating lavishly.
Other cultures have supplemented or replaced leather and skins with cloth: woven, knitted, or twined from various animal and vegetable fibres. See weaving, knitting, and twining.
Before the invention of the powered loom, weaving remained a labor-intensive process. Weavers had to harvest fibres, clean, spin, and weave them. When using cloth for clothing, people used every scrap of it.
One approach simply involves draping the cloth. Many peoples wore, and still wear, garments consisting of rectangles of cloth wrapped to fit -- for example the Scottish kilt or the Javaese sarong. Pins or belts hold the garments in place. The precious cloth remains uncut, and people of various sizes can wear the garment.
Another approach involves cutting and sewing the cloth, but using every bit of the cloth rectangle in constructing the clothing. The tailor may cut triangular pieces from one corner of the cloth, then add them elsewhere as gussets. Traditional European patterns for men's shirts and women's chemises take this approach.
Modern European fashion treats cloth much more prodigally, typically cutting in such a way as to leave various odd-shaped cloth remnants. Industrial sewing operations sell these as waste; home sewers may turn them into quilts.
In the thousands of years that humans have spent constructing clothing, they have created an astonishing array of styles, many of which we can reconstruct from surviving garments, photos, paintings, mosaics, etc., as well as from written descriptions. Costume history serves as a source of inspiration to current fashion designers, as well as a topic of professional interest to costumers sewing for plays, films, television, and historical reenactment.
A number of expected future technologies can be potentially adopted by clothing manufacturers and some prototypes have already been demonstrated. In particular, future clothing will almost definitely use lighter, cheaper and stronger fabrics, including nanotechnological materials. Advanced materials will be capable of changing their properties in response to changing environment. For example, military researchers envision uniforms that solidify on bullet impact, filter poisonous chemicals and treat soldier wounds. With further development of electronics, MEMS and nanotechnology "smart" clothing will incorporate many additional functions, including wearable computers and other electronics, flexible wearable displays (leading to fully animated clothing and some forms of invisibility cloaks), medical sensors, etc.
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