With a history as rich as its textures, velvet has long been associated with the word “luxury” for centuries. From the dragon robes of ancient Chinese emperors to the royal garbs of Medieval European kings, velvet was a status symbol reserved only for the ruling class and nobility.
Though velvet has lost much of its exclusivity nowadays, it’s still a high-end fabric used for clothing, upholstery, furniture, and of course, bedding. Considering its prominence in today’s fashion and textile industries, it’s safe to say that velvet has stood the test of time and is regarded as a timeless luxury fabric.
What is Velvet?
Velvet is a densely woven fabric that's famous for its lustrous shimmer, elegant drape, and luxuriously soft hand feel. Using a special type of loom called a double cloth, two layers of fabric are simultaneously woven together to produce a dense pile. The layers are then separated, which results in the vertically protruding fibers that produce the signature velvet texture.
Most modern-day velvet is made from a mix of natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen, as well as synthetic ones, such as rayon, nylon, viscose, or polyester. But in the past, velvet was almost exclusively made with silk, which made it precious and expensive.
How is Silk Velvet Made?
Of course, the reason why silk velvet was (and is) expensive is because it’s made of silk.
Silk production, also known as sericulture, starts with gathering and cultivating silkworms. These silkworms are kept on a strict diet of mulberry leaves until they enter their pupal stage and start spinning cocoons.
Before the pupae hatch, the cocoons are gathered and dumped into a large pot of boiling water in a process called stifling. This method kills the pupae inside and dissolves the sericin, the natural substance that “glues” the cocoon together. Without the sericin, the cocoon starts to unravel into silk filaments, which are then drawn up into a loom to form silk threads.
The silk thread yield of a single cocoon is very minimal. Around 2,500 silkworms and 200 lbs of mulberry leaves are required to produce 1 lb of raw silk, which translates to around 1 yard of woven silk fabric. That’s not a lot.
Despite this long, complicated and ethically fraught process, people’s love for silk velvet has remained - and in recent years, even grown. Why? Because velvet made from silk has an even more opulent sheen, flowing drape and soft hand feel when compared to other forms of velvet.
However, given the drawbacks of silk velvet (discussed below), several alternatives have emerged over the years. The most common alternative is to blend a small percentage of silk with rayon, which helps reduce costs while increasing durability - many companies marketing silk velvet use this method. However, we opt to use faux silk velvet, which is velvet made from a special synthetic blend that mimics the look and feel of real silk velvet - without the downsides.
Why We Use Faux Silk Velvet
Because it's easier to produce, a lot of manufacturers have turned to faux silk velvet as a cost-effective replacement for real silk velvet. Aside from economic reasons, faux silk velvet provides a long list of pros over real silk velvet. Here are just a few:1. Free of animal cruelty and less wasteful
Unsurprisingly, the method of killing pupae by boiling them alive has raised many ethical discussions on whether silk production should still be continued today or banned altogether. Even if the pupae are left to hatch on their own, most domesticated silk moths don’t live very long because of the harmful selective breeding process usually employed in the industry.
Aside from all of that, sericulture uses a high amount of energy and high volumes of water during the preparation process. And since silk is made from natural fibers, it has to be treated with various chemicals, some toxic, in order to clean and keep it from naturally degrading.2. Easier to care for
Silk velvet is very delicate and requires a lot of upkeep to maintain its sumptuous textures. Dry cleaning is the best yet most costly method.
On the other hand, faux silk velvet is much more durable and stands up better to gentle machine washing, saving both time and money on maintenance.3. Doesn’t fade under sunlight
If you’re someone who likes to let in a lot of natural light into their home, then you may want to think twice about buying silk bedding and furniture. This is because silk velvet is infamous for fading easily when exposed to sunlight, becoming dull and lifeless.
Remember when we said that silk velvet should be air-dried? Well, if you don’t have a well-shaded and ventilated outdoor area for drying, you’re stuck with drying them indoors.
Fortunately, faux silk velvet isn’t as fussy. You can throw it into the dryer or hang it up outside and not worry about any fading or yellowing.
4. More affordable
There’s no need for months-long production timelines and high overhead expenses when it comes to faux silk velvet. Thanks to modern-day machinery, a higher quantity of faux silk velvet can be produced every day. This results in a lower cost, making faux silk velvet more accessible.
A roll of silk velvet fabric can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The same amount of faux silk velvet will cost half of that, translating to lower costs for products made from faux silk velvet.5. Looks and feels like real silk velvet
From the shimmer down to the drape, faux silk velvet can emulate the luxury and opulence of real silk velvet without the exorbitant price tag. Although the quality can vary with different manufacturers, for our Stella Collection we worked with a number of different textile suppliers before deciding on a version that looks and feels virtually indistinguishable from "the real thing."
To sum it up, faux silk velvet provides the luxurious feel of silk at a fraction of the cost. That’s why we decided to craft the Stella Collection using this fabric.
Our Stella Collection
Plush and inviting, the Stella Collection is crafted from luxurious faux silk velvet. In versatile neutrals and rich jewel tones, it fits seamlessly with a variety of decorating styles, from romantic to modern, traditional, and Western. The Stella Collection includes , , , , , , , and more. Pair quilted and smooth duvet covers and bedspreads with throw pillows, blankets, curtains, and other accessories in the same color family for a sleek look. Or choose coordinating colors for depth and drama.