Denim/jeans have made their way into our everyday lifestyle, diluting its association as a workingclass garment. Recent development of silk denims which are soft, light and comfortable in all seasons, have added a new dimension to the denim and fashion world.

In the present global economy, the future of silk will increasingly depend on the industrys ability to relentlessly innovate new range of products. Product development has been a pressing need of the Indian silk industry and diversification into casual wear to address the changing market needs is critically important.

Central Silk Technological Research Institute (CSTRI), Bangalore has been engaged in product development in silk and silk blends. The Cocoon a Product Design, Development and Diversification (P3D) Cell under the institute, established with broader objectives of quality upgradation, investment generation, technology upgradation, productivity improvement and employment generation, is involved in revival of traditional products as well as development of innovative silk products, meeting the consumer preferences and market needs. The product range includes eri fleece fabrics, eri dress materials, eri shawls, silk non-wovens, silk stretch fabrics, silk-knits, eri silk and wool blends, silk x cotton/linen union fabrics etc.

Silk denim is another such successful effort in this direction giving a new dimension to both denim and silk segments of the textile sector. The initial attempt by the institute to develop silk denim using eri silk has been reported earlier (Indian Silk, July, 2005).

Development of silk denim fabrics

Natural silk has been one of the most popular fabrics because of its unique properties like, softness, suppleness and strength. Silk is preferred for its lightness with warmth, sheerness with strength and delicacy with resiliency. Silk fabrics retain their shape and resist wrinkling rather well. Silk has pliability and suppleness that aided by elasticity and resilience, give it excellent drapability. Also, silk being fine and strong, can be woven into light weight denim fabrics.

The denim is a coarse twill weave cotton fabric, also commonly known as blue jeans/jeans. Taking clue from the history that denims/ jeans were originally made of silk, wool, cotton and linen, an attempt has been made to develop different combinations of silk denim fabrics. The mulberry silk of 20/22 denier in 6 and 12 ply organzine twisted and eri silk of 2/60s, 2/80s and 2/ 120s were used in warp. The warp yarn was dyed to indigo blue shade with acid dyes. The mulberry silk in 6 and 12 ply tram twisted and eri silk of 2/60s, 2/80s and 2/120s grey yarns were used in weft for development of 100% silk denim fabric. The cotton yarn of 2/60s, 2/ 100 Ne and linen yarns of 40s, 50s Le were also used in weft on the silk warp. Further, mulberry raw silk of 20/22 denier that can be doubled and twisted in the required plies and eri mill spun silk yarn available in the counts of 2/40s,2/60s,2/80s, 2/100s and 2/120s Nm and 20s Ne noil yarn can also be used for development of different varieties of silk denim fabrics.