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Viyella Fabric--A Brief History!

If you grew up in an upper-middle class family in the United Kingdom at any time after the First World War you'd be familiar with Viyella. It was cloth that your causal cold-weather shirts were made out of--and because of its softness, warmth, and cozyness, it was almost certainly the material that your favorite cold-weather shirt was made from! Indeed, so popular was Viyella that many children looked forward to "Viyella Day"--the first day of autumn (or, in more frugal families, winter) when they were allowed to wear their Viyella clothing (often, shirts of pajamas) sometimes inherited from their older siblings or even from their parents, when they were children.

But what exactly IS Viyella? For a start, it's a fabric that is no longer made--at least not in its original form.

Viyella was first woven in England in 1893 by William Hollins & Co from a blend of 55% wool and 45% cotton in a twill weave; in 1894 it became the first officially branded fabric in the world. The name is taken from the name of one of the main roads that was located near the Hollins factory--the Via Gellia, which owes its faux-Latin name to Philip Eyre Gell, whose family claimed descent from occupying Romans. Sold as the "unshrinkable" flannel and with its lovely soft hand, durability, and longevity Viyella quickly became a fabric of choice for winter shirts and similar clothing, such as pajamas, and owing to its cost became associated with the British upper and upper middle class.

Although Viyella started life as a particular fabric the name soon became a brand of its own, and so Viyella products are not necessarily made from Viyella. Indeed, NO new Viyella products are actually made from Viyella fabric, since this is no longer produced, having been supplanted by a modern "Viyella" blend of 80% cotton and 20% wool... which is actually very similar to what used to be Viyella's cheaper cousin, "Clydella", a blend of 81% cotton and 19% wool.

So, if you'd like clothing made from the same Viyella that your British grandfather (or great grandfather) wore after his service in the trenches of the First War, or your parents' pajamas were made of when they were children, and which kept them warm in the air-raid shelters of the Second War, you'll need to secure vintage items.

And, luckily, I have some available.... Coming soon!

(Alas, the pictures show my genuine vintage Viyella offerings from previous years, all now long claimed!)

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