A button is a small plastic or metal knob, usually attached with clothing to secure an opening in the garment or can also be used for decorative purposes. Its name originates from the French word bouton meaning a metal piece to connect different parts of a garment. Its legend can be traced back to the primeval ages. Ancient people of the Indus Valley used sea shells cut in various geometrical shapes as buttons to fasten belts, clothes etc. Romans used pieces of wood with pins in it. European archeologists have found buttons made of ivory, and bone decorated with gold and silver.
Even an exquisitely designed garment would not look appealing if not supported by proper, complementing accessories. Button is one of the fashion symbols that enhance the appearance of a dress apart from mere closing the opening in a garment. Buttons are manufactured from a variety of natural materials like bone, horn, ivory, antler, wood, and also from synthetics like celluloid, glass, metal and plastic. Initially buttons had pins behind them to fasten it with the cloth. During the 13th century, the idea of button hole was conceived.
The Qiaotou Button City of China:
The Qiaotou Button City near the town of Qiaotou in China is a market reputed for trading buttons. Started in 1983, currently it is one among the 10 nationally specialized markets in Wenzhou. Around 70 percent of the shops in this market deals only in buttons while the rest 30 percent deals with other accessories like zippers etc. It sells more than 10,000 varieties of buttons, like handicraft buttons, glass-bead buttons, metal, ceramic and other decorative buttons. It constitutes of 80 percent of the total national sales and 60 percent of the total global button sales. It sells approximately 5 billion buttons; annually. The total value of output of button industries of this town is estimated to be around Rmb 1.6 billion. (1 US Dollar = 7.19900 Chinese Yuan, Rmb).
Qiaotou is currently planning for an industrial park for button industries and more than 30 factories have already enrolled themselves for the project. Qiaotou Button City has also set up its own, Chinas biggest B2B website to display and market its products. It serves as a window to the rest of the business world to display its products, market them and also serves as a platform to collect, and exchange market information.
Creative applications of Buttons:
Buttons are not only used in garments, but when creativity and buttons work together, the result will be quite fascinating. There are various other products where buttons are used creatively.
- Used to make ornaments for the fashion savvy women.
- Used for decorating walls, greeting cards, hand bags, foot wears, gift packing etc.
- Buttons look great when used in gel candles.
- Used with other unique embellishments like roses, ribbons etc to decorate a hat band.
- Make decorative brooches.
- Used as eyes in a puppet.
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