Why is silk an expensive fiber?
Silk is referred to as one of the luxurious and finest fibers in the world of fashion. Silk is known to be one of the oldest fibers that were discovered by Chinese people around 8,500 years ago. After its discovery, this fiber became very popular among the royal family and emperors of China. They regarded silk as a very royal fiber which saw its applications in the royal clothes of royal people.
The silk fiber is one of the strongest natural fibers which is extracted from the cocoons of silkworms. Similar to other insects or moths, silkworm also goes through the process of metamorphosis i.e egg, larval, pupal, and adult. Hence to extract silk from cocoons, is a very natural process and hence takes a lot of patience, effort, care and time. The silkworm caterpillars are fed mulberry leaves for over several weeks, after which they make cocoons. It takes around one to one and a half months for a caterpillar to become a cocoon. If the caterpillars are not handled properly the quality of the fiber may get affected. Hence it is a very controlled process and cannot speed up by any means. The whole process of farming the cocoons, boiling them, cleansing, extraction of fiber, spinning, bleaching, dyeing and the final weaving is altogether very tedious, laborious and land-intensive.
And when a process takes so much time, the price of the final product automatically rises. Moreover, silk is the only natural filament yarn which has its own luster and shine. To make a silk blouse approximately 66 silkworm cocoons are needed, while to make a silk dress around 1700-2000 silk cocoons are needed. This alone justifies how much land is needed to grow that much of mulberry trees to feed these much of caterpillars so they can be used to produce a silk saree.