Know Your Terms: Jute

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.


Part textile and part wood, jute (from the Bengali for “twisted hair”) is an incredibly hefty and affordable composite natural fiber, among the very first fabrics ever woven into clothing and rope along the Ganges River delta. When, in the late 1800s, British colonialists bringing the fibers back from what is now Bangladesh discovered that the fabric could be machine processed if treated with whale oil (no lie), jute became the second most widely produced natural fiber (behind cotton). Production has tapered off a bit since (due largely to the rise of nylon and synthetics), but the environmental upside of jute is cause for its consistent high standing (and, hey, it still looks good on the soles of those espadrilles).

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