The Appeal of Chenille
Jul 13, 2022
If you ask us, chenille is overdue a critical reappraisal.
As with its close relatives velour and chiffon, time has not been kind to chenille. Originally created by some long-forgotten branch of alchemy (some say it was forged by Frenchmen; others, the Scots), today, chenille is perhaps most closely associated with the regrettable craze for novelty fabrics which dominated fashions in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Think of chenille, and you’ll most likely conjure images of shapeless, vaguely iridescent jumpers and strange, boa-like scarves. Suffice to say, the associations aren’t exactly elegant, and so chenille has been consigned to the dustbin of fashion history.
However, call us crazy, but here at Drake’s we would rather put chenille in a bin labelled ‘underrated,’ ‘overlooked,’ or, ‘unfairly maligned.’ Admittedly, it is an acquired taste, and its strangely fuzzy texture won’t be for everyone, but for us, chenille is a wonder fabric. Its deep, plush pile creates a unique visual impression, not to mention an extraordinary depth of colour that’s hard to find in other materials. Think of it as corduroy’s eccentric cousin.
One of the issues that has contributed to chenille’s manifest PR problem is its tendency to be woven from subpar threads, such as polyester, nylon and acrylic. No wonder it gets a bad rap. In stark contrast to these chemically engineered, nature-defying fibres, we decided to create a chenille woven from a luxurious (and entirely natural) blend of silk and cotton.
The name chenille means caterpillar in French (on account of the obvious visual similarity), so if mass produced, synthetic chenille is something like a common or garden cabbage white butterfly caterpillar, then ours is more akin to a rare and majestic spicebush swallowtail butterfly caterpillar (but I’m sure you were thinking that already).
Simply put, this is a lovely, unusual fabric, from which we have fashioned a sporty quarter-zip track top. Wear it over an oxford shirt or a simple cotton tee. Under a field jacket, or even tailoring. It’s a deceptively versatile piece of clothing, and easier to wear then you might think. So, say yes to chenille, and become the beautiful sartorial butterfly you always knew you could be.