What is Velour? Velour is the most recommended type of fabric to use for theatrical productions. Although there are many fabrics available in the market today, those who are most involved in a theater would recommend one thing – velour. Velour is commonly confused with velvet, and although they are pretty similar, they have their distinct qualities. Mainly, velour is widely used in the theater because this fabric is excellent as stage curtains with its lush texture and feel. However, there are many more questions to ask if you want to know more about what is velour. Hence, here is everything you need to know about what is velour.
What is Velour Fabric and How it Differs from Velvet?
Made from either cotton blend or synthetic fibers, velour is a cut-pile knit fabric. The word velour is derived from the French word ‘velvet’ and is often synthetically manufactured using polyester. This type of velour is classified as flame retardant by the National Fire Protection Association after being tested for the 701 flame retardancy standard.
What is velour and how is it different from velvet? Commonly mistaken for each other, velvet, aside from being older than velour, has a pile that is woven instead of knitted.
This means that, unlike velour fabric, velvet yarns are woven in a single direction. Velvet is also smoother, softer, more grandeur, and is better suited for clothing. Velvet is also flammable, unlike velour.
Velour, on the other hand, is less sumptuous, more durable, and simpler to manufacture than velvet. It is also highly luxurious. That's why it is often used for stage curtains. Velour is also characterized by shorter cut piles. It is also soft and plush. Based on these, it is quite clear why industry coordinators have a preference for velour.
What is Velour – History, and Background
Historians know for a fact that velour originated in France as an alternative for velvet. However, there are no records as to when it was first developed. Although, there are records that prove its existence since the 1840s, for the longest time velour has gained fame for upholstery.
What drove manufacturers to produce velour was the need for a cheaper alternative for velvet. Because velvet was so complicated to make, it drove it to incredibly high prices. It was not until the early 20th century that efficient velvet production methods were invented.
However, by that time velour fabric has made its name as a less expensive, and more durable alternative for velvet. Since then, velour has remained coarser as compared to velvet. It was mostly used by furniture manufacturers and by theatrical coordinators as stage curtains.
What is velour clothing? Initially, before the mid-1960s, velour was rarely used in the clothing industry, however, velour clothing thrived in the 1970s and lost popularity again the following decade. Fast the forward to late 1990s and early 2000s and velour clothing made a comeback as renowned fashion designers created velour tracksuits for celebrities. These velour tracksuits had tightly fitted tops and flared bottoms and were incredibly famous for a few years.
What is Velour – How it’s Made
As mentioned, another aspect that separates what is velour from velvet is how it is made. The velour fabric production follows three steps and is a lot less complicated than how it is to produce velvet.
Fiber Yarn Production
Firstly, the manufacturers have to acquire the right material for velour. Traditionally, just like velvet, they used cotton to create velour, however, today, velour is created with polyester fibers. Polyester is made out of various chemicals, petroleum, and coal. These materials are then liquified and extruded using spinnerets to turn them into thick fibers that look similar to yarn.
The Weaving Process
Before, velvet was produced using a special style of handloom that weaves two fabrics simultaneously. This process is time-consuming, hence velour was created using the pile knit process which is more efficient and less complicated.
After the weaving process, the velour fabric would have to undergo a series of after-care treatments to ensure durability and quality. The dyeing process will also be done after the weaving process.
What is Velour – Types
Over the years, as velour has continuously developed, different types of velour fabric have emerged. Here are the several types of velour fabric:
What is velour leather? Velour leather is characterized by a soft surface and is known for being a delicate type of leather. It is a kind of animal hide textile that has similarities with chamois and suede. This type of leather is often used in furniture upholstery, watch bands, jackets, and shoemaking.
Synthetic velour as compared to cotton velour is cheaper as it is made out of polyester fibers. Conveniently, it is also flame retardant, hence it is often used as stage curtains to prevent threats of fire. Synthetic velour is identical to cotton velour apart from its texture which is less soft. Because of this, this type of velour is rarely used as a clothing material.
Traditionally, velour was created using cotton until the mid-19th century. Because it was made with the same material as velvet, it was popularized as a cheaper imitation of velvet. Since synthetic velour came into the scene, cotton velour has been used exclusively for upholstery and clothing. It is not as popular anymore as a theater stage curtain.
Duvetyne is extremely similar to what is velour. It is twill woven velvet-like fabric that is often used by the theater industry as stage curtains, theatrical cyclorama, or backdrops.
Velvet is what velour was made to imitate. It is luxurious and soft and is produced with either cotton or synthetic fibers. Before, the velvet production process was long and tedious, but eventually, manufacturers found a more efficient way to produce velvet which was by using machine looms.
Just like velvet, velveteen is made using the same process that made the prior incredibly costly. What sets it apart, however, is that velveteen is made using cotton instead of silk. That's why it has a lower price. When not made using synthetic fibers, the price difference between these two is still evident.
What is Velour – Uses
As of the moment, velour fabric is commonly seen in the theatrical arts and used as stage curtains. Although at times velour clothing becomes a trend, this fame usually does not last too long. Regardless, velour fabric is still in high demand by theater companies and movie theaters as they use this as screen borders as well.
In the upholstery industry, velour fabric is also quite famous – especially with vintage and antique pieces. In the clothing industry, different apparels made of velours such as sweaters, tracksuits, jackets, skirts, pants and the like are also available although not as popular and as common. Recently, velour has also been used as a material for the lining of jewelry boxes.
What is Velour – Production, Cost, and Environmental Impact
What is velour and its price? With this type of fabric, one shall expect low costs as compared to genuine velvet. It is usually the same price as other synthetic or natural textiles. Cotton velour, however, is more expensive than polyester velour.
Velour originated in France. However, when talking about the top producers, both India and China are on the top of the list. Velour fabric is either produced using polyester fibers and cotton. For cotton, the country with the highest production is India, and the main exporter is China. For synthetic polyester velour together with other synthetic fabrics, however, China is the top producer.
Yearly velour production is relatively low, so if any, its environmental impacts are kept at a minimum. Unfortunately, certain types of velour are harmful to the environment, not to mention the use of synthetic materials for its production has contributed to the negative effects of velour on the environment. In terms of environment-friendly velour, the closest one would be cotton velour.
What is Velour – In Conclusion
Overall, what is velour? Initially made to imitate velvet, over the years velour has gained enough popularity to be recognized as a fabric. It is produced using the pile knit method. It has the same properties as velvet, except that it is made with a less complicated process and is cheaper.
Although velour is not commonly used in the apparel industry, it is widely accepted in theaters and un upholstery. Its coarse but durable texture allows make it one of the most reliable fabrics. It’s also tough, which is why it lasts your for a long time. Velour is also flame retardant making it suitable for stage curtains. It’s also used as stage borders to prevent fire. Although velour is not very environmentally friendly, its effects are kept on the low because of its low annual production.
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