Wearable Poetry: Mud Silk Clothing
A unique cloth with an ancestral heritage, Chinese mud silk is entering the world of contemporary fashion
Behind her distinctive glasses, Marcella Echavarria is highly animated, eyes sparkling as she speaks. “It was the first time that I could actually hear a textile. I was immediately obsessed—it was fascinating,” she says.
“I was in a darkened restaurant in Beijing and heard the mellifluous sway of a lady’s trousers as she crossed the room. The fabric was unlike any that I’d seen before—I was transfixed by its evocative swish.”
Echavarria, a Colombian lifestyle specialist and textiles entrepreneur, is telling the story of her first encounter with mud silk: a rare and ancient Chinese fabric with over 2,500 years of history.
“Mud silk is a blend of resilience and poetry. Its process is so intricate that it requires resilience; at the same time it’s so discreet, so subtle, that it’s like wearing poetry,” Echavarria says, her ardour palpable. “Mud silk is part of the heritage of China—the heritage of the world.”
A story of silk
A remarkable cloth born of earth, water, and sunshine—and shaped by artisanal tradition—mud silk is a material of contrasts. It’s irresistibly luxurious yet demonstrably sustainable. One side is dark and glossy, with water-resistant properties. The matte, earth-toned reverse gets its colour from the natural dye of a medicinal yam called discorrea cirrhosa, which infuses the material with antibacterial properties. Unlike most fabrics, mud silk improves with time and wear—its sheen is enhanced, its texture softens, and its colours intensify like the patina of fine leather.