"Long Live the CORDUROY!"
You may, or may not know that Betty and I both hail from the great British city of Manchester. Growing up there, we both knew that it was a town full of people with a never ending passion for life (especially nightlife), sport and music. Its achievements are recognized the world over, but one seems to have slipped through the net, corduroy.
Understandable really, the computer has changed the world - if not humanity itself, Manchester United bring tears of joy and sorrow to millions of fans around the world and Joy Division continue to be the sound of angst teenagers 45 years since their inception.
So corduroy has some pretty steep competition when it comes to legendary status and despite its straight lines, its history has had many twists and turns.
Perceived as a 20th century cloth, its actual ancestry goes back well over two thousand years to the Egyptian city of Fustat. Originally a cotton weave known as Fustian, it was common in the region for centuries until its popularity soared during the Medieval period, when Italian merchants introduced the fabric to the nobles throughout Western Europe. In the days before heating, the aristocracy loved it for its warmth, most notably England's King Henry VIII.
Originally it was believed that the term corduroy came from a 17th Century English interpretation of the French "corde du roi" or "cloth of the king", but that theory has now been debunked and it’s now believed that the name corduroy has a much simpler explanation and is in fact made up of the word "cord" referring to its tufted row-like pattern and the word "duroy" which was a coarse woolen fabric used in England.
And so it would appear that the cloth that we all now recognize as corduroy, didn't in fact emerge until the 19th century in Manchester, where its hard-wearing nature made it ideal for factory wear during the Industrial revolution. Coincidentally, corduroy is known as ‘Manchester’ in some parts of Europe.
Corduroy remained a workwear fabric for the next 100 years or so, but in the post-war period its popularity was beginning to wane until it was revived in the 1960’s by the counterculture, college students and beatniks, who wore it as an alternative to chinos and denim. British Prime Minister, Edward Heath is even quoted as saying that The Beatles "saved the British corduroy industry".
Corduroy reached its peak popularity in the 1970s, where it was worn as a symbol of anti-establishment. Loved by musicians, artists and directors - it has been famously worn by Bob Dylan, Pablo Picasso and more recently, Wes Anderson.
With its place in history now confirmed, you may be also surprised to know that November the 11th (11/11) is in fact National Corduroy Day.
"Long Live The Corduroy!"