Knowledge A relative of velvet, corduroy is soft but hard-wearing and durable fabric that has been used for trousers and outerwear since the late 18th century. The fabric is known as ‘Manchester’ in many countries.
The ribs that run down the length of a corduroy fabric, known as wales or cords, are created by weaving loose threads of twisted cotton in regular intervals on top of a tight plain or twill weave. The supplementary weft-yarns are then cut and brushed to raise the pile and laid in the same direction. Because the wales function as insulating pockets of air, corduroy is warmer than other cotton fabrics. Wider wales often have a deeper pile, which means they are heavier and warmer than fabrics with thinner ridges. A classic corduroy has between 10 and 14 wales per inch, while the finer needle cord is made with up to 18, and jumbo or elephant cord, the broadest fabric, can have as few as 3 wales per inch. Essentially a textured form of velvet, corduroy has a soft hand but is still very hard-wearing and durable and has been used for trousers, outerwear and upholstery since the late 18th century. The fabric was extensively manufactured in the northwest of England during the 19th century and is known as ‘Manchester’ in many countries.