August 8, 2013 by Ville Raivio
Viyella is a shirt fabric woven from a mix of cotton and wool. Its name was derived from Via Gellia in Matlock, Derbyshire, where the original maker bought a mill in 1890. It was created by William Hollins&Co. in 1893 to combine the warmth of wool with the comfort of cotton, and originally woven as a 55% merino wool, 45% cotton blend. One year later the Viyella name and fabric were registered to become one of the first trademarked fabrics. The cloth was soft and lightweight, woven in Tattersall checks, grids and multi-coloured patterns for casual use. First used in shirts and nightwear, Viyella proved popular and was soon used in sheets, dresses, slips, so on. Even grumpy military officers embraced the pleasant shirting.
The Hollins company has since merged and been sold several times to become the bland Viyella it is today, and no longer makes the renowned wool-cotton Viyella fabric. As with so many once-great goods, the wool-cotton blended fabrics of today usually have but 20% of wool in the the mix. They wrinkle more and wear less warm, though today’s houses have better insulation and heated cars have become ubiquitous. Viyella’s time may have passed for good, yet hunting, riding and similar sports do require suitable cloths for comfort. The marriage of cotton and wool has proved itself golden, and may just be right addition for the outdoorsman’s wardrobe.
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