Dress-making was not as old as mankind as had been previously thought. It turned out that food-gathering was our ancestors' first priority. The need for shelter came in second. Clothing, generally regarded today as man’s third basic need, came in much later.
The jury is still out there as to how late it was when our ancestors finally decided to make and wear clothes. Initial findings say it was some time around 650,000 years ago when people thought it was good and healthy to wear something to protect themselves against the rain, the wind and the sun.
The experts were also uncertain if the decision to wear clothes included the avoidance of stares from the others. That reason might just be plain conjecture. We still have groups of people, old tribes living in present-day jungles, who consider personal modesty a non-issue.
What is certain, though, is that the manufacture of clothes had evolved into one of the world’s biggest multi-billion dollar industries. It had spawned its own specialized idioms, created fashion movements, made up its own philosophy and quirky politics, and created its own star personalities. It had even overlapped into the equally hyper entertainment industry. But that’s another story.
Our story is about the dying art of dress-making.
It had been a long while since people used fur and leather from animals, as well as leaves, barks and hemp from plants as clothing. Wearing was simple: either these were tied to the body or were wrapped around the backs of the wearer.
Much later, the craft of weaving was developed and the use of hand needles to stitch fabrics together arose some 40,000 years ago. The making of clothes went a notch higher.
In China, silk was discovered around 3,000 ago, almost around the time the Egyptians found the use of linen. In Europe, wool was first used in Greece and later in Rome. It is remarkable that we still use these materials today.