Corduroys have a long and unique history that most people are just unaware of. We take many of our style designs today as being something that is unique to our generation alone. And this is true – to an extent. But like the saying goes “is there such a thing as an original thought?”
Corduroys first evolved from an ancient cotton weaving technique known as ‘fustian’. If you are unfamiliar with the name, this is because this technique dates back to the time of the ancient Egyptians (was tear anything they didn’t have a hand in inspiring?).
Although this name, fustian, was first used in the 12th century in Europe the name itself is derived from the ancient city called Fustat. The technique would be used a great deal during the 12th and 14th century in Europe.
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Entering the 18th Century
During the 18th-century manufacturing clothes had become vastly easier when compared to the ancient days, and as a result, cheaper versions of fustian became quite popular. These cheap clothes would be something that those who weren’t of royal nobility or lineage would wear.
The 19th Century
As history continues onward, the Corduroys would be the staple uniform for the working class in the 19th century. In every sense of the word the corduroy was the uniform for the common man, the student, the workers and as the higher-ups in society called this form of clothes “the poor man’s velvet.”
The 20th Century
During the 20th century, the corduroy became a trendy outfit for small children. And they were the preferred uniform for children in the United States as well as in France. During the 1920s through the 1940s, the corduroy would become a dominant style for people in the sports or military background.
And during the 1950s this is where the corduroy would start to enter into pop culture and become trendy fashion styles. The informal look would become a primary fashion design for many post-1970s.
Why Are They Called Cordorouys?
The name was first coined back in the late 18th century in England. It was translated from the French phrase “corde du roy” which means “cloth of the king.”
This is somewhat contradictory when you read the history behind the corduroy and see that those back during the 18th until the mid of the 20th century were seen as clothes for the lesser and common man.