5 Traditional Textiles and Fabrics from Around the World

fabrics from around the world

Whether your business uses tablecloths and napkins, bed linens, towels, or uniforms, your textiles follow a certain aesthetic that is standard across your industry and your business. But have you ever wondered what textiles and fabrics are traditional in other areas across the world?

Whether it’s the clothing worn by their indigenous people, popular patterns used in their fabric designs, or the way the fabric is made, every continent has its own textiles that stand out. That’s why we’ve taken a look at traditional fabrics around the world and selected some of the most fascinating ones. While there are many more fabrics from around the world we could write about, here are some of the textiles that caught our eyes.

Here are 5 traditional textiles and fabrics from around the world:


Traditional In: Scotland – Europe

Tartan is something that you have likely seen before, but just call it by a different name. Here in the states, it’s known as plaid! Tartan is the criss-cross pattern that is well known for its roots in kilts and other items in Scotland. This pattern is traditional to Scottish culture and was originally unique to woven wool, but has now branched out to new materials.

So, does tartan refer to the cloth bearing the pattern, or the pattern itself? Well, in a way, both. Traditionally the cloth is called the tartan and the pattern is called a sett. Over time, people eventually started calling any material bearing the plaid pattern tartan because it’s no longer just fabric textiles that bear the plaid pattern. Essentially, what creates that pattern in the cloth is when a thread in the warp crosses a different color thread in the weft.


Traditional In: Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan – Asia

This fabric is historically important in this region due to the movement Gandhi started to rebel against mills and make the area’s villages more independent. At the time, clothing was charged at high prices and yarn was difficult to get your hands on, making it difficult for poor communities to acquire the textiles and materials they needed. This is where a boycott began in which individuals were encouraged to spin their own yarn. That’s when khadi, the handwoven fabric particular to this region, became popular.

Primarily made of cotton (sometimes silk or wool as well), this cloth is handspun and made from natural fibers. There are a variety of benefits khadi provides to communities, some including the jobs that it creates and its positive environmental impacts. This fabric can be

used to create a variety of materials, such as sarees and dresses.

Kente Cloth

Traditional In: Ghana – Africa

The theory is that this cloth originates from an observation of the creation of a spiderweb. As the theory goes, two young men observed how the spider wove its web and then brought the techniques that they saw into their own weaving technique. This unique style of fabric is identifiable from the visible, complex patterns seen in the warp threads.

The fabric is made up of silk and cotton materials and the colors in the the design have different meanings, such as gray’s association with ash and gold’s association with riches. The kente cloth is used for the royal Asante people of Ghana for special events and is also worn by the Ewe people, previously under rule of the Asante people. The way it is worn varies. Oftentimes it is worn by men in one piece, covering the body and leaving one shoulder and arm uncovered, and is worn by women either in the same fashion or as a skirt.

Jaspe Rebozo

Traditional In: Mexico – North America

The Mexican rebozo is a textile cover worn by women either as a scarf or shawl, or to cover the face or mouth. This garment comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from small to 12’ long and 3 feet wide. The majority of the textile is woven fabric, with the last approximate ¼ of it tied in the famous fringe detailing it’s known for. The materials that are used to make the rebozo vary but may include cotton, silk or wool. Jaspe rebozos are a popular version, where the pattern on the material comes from a binding of resist-dyed (a process that involves blocking dye from certain areas of the material) threads before the material is woven.

The design of the jaspe rebozo can vary, but some names of designs include caramelo, de bolita, and lloyisna. The style of the rebozo also varies depending on the region of Mexico. For example, in Oaxaca, the popular design is a dark blue cotton with white specks running across it. Not only were rebozos a way to identify what region of Mexico an individual was from, but they were also used as a way to identify religion. Because of this, rebozos served a purpose of identifying backgrounds of an individual.

Mapuche Clothing

Traditional In: Chile – South America

Mapuche clothing refers to the clothing worn by the native peoples of Chile. These individuals are famous for weaving various items including blankets and ponchos. Similar to the Mexican jaspe rebozo, Mapuche clothing varies depending on the individual, primarily based on their gender, age and location.

Particularly, the dress is noticeably different among men and women. Men dressed more simply than the women, who wore a square cloth (küpam) that extended over their shoulders and went down to their ankles, held on by several accessories (thick belts called trariwe and brooches called tupu) and accompanied by head ornaments, earrings and coats. Meanwhile, similar to the long cloth women wore, the men wore poncho-like attire accompanied with a rectangular cloth tied around the waist and thighs, a less elaborate belt, felt hats and sandals.

Get unique and high-quality textiles for your business.

While it’s unlikely the suppliers in our network will be able to provide your business with a traditional jaspe rebozo, all of their products are just as unique. Whether you need customized floor mats, aprons in your business’ colors, or simply high-quality cleaning rags, we work with a wide range of prescreened providers across the United States, Canada and Australia.

For the linen, uniform, towel, laundry or mat service your business needs, contact us at Linen Finder and we’ll help you get connected to a provider near you!