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What is Brocade Fabric – The Ultimate Guide

Brocade fabric holds rich historical and cultural significance, spanning centuries and continuing to captivate individuals with its intricate textures and beautiful patterns. So, what precisely is brocade, and where can it find its applications? How can a mere piece of fabric hold delightful surprises for you? In this blog post, you will discover the answers.

What is Brocade Fabric?

Brocade fabric is a type of woven textile that exudes elegance and sophistication. It is known for its elaborate and exquisite patterns. This fabric is often enhanced with the inclusion of metallic threads, which lend a striking sense of opulence. Through the meticulous interweaving of weft and warp threads, brocade fabric takes on a raised or embossed appearance. This adds depth and texture to its visual appeal.

Unlike printed fabrics, brocade surpasses in beauty. It allows for the creation of intricate designs that are seamlessly integrated into the fabric itself. Remarkably, the passage of time only enhances its radiance, imbuing it with a distinct and enduring charm.

The History of Brocade Fabric

The history of brocade can be traced back to ancient civilizations. It originated during the Warring States period in ancient China (475-221 BCE) and was referred to as “jin,” meaning a luxurious and noble fabric akin to gold and silver. So only the royal and aristocratic classes could use this fabric. 

During this time, brocade was made solely from silk, and the secrets of silk production were held exclusively by China from the 4th to the 6th century. Consequently, brocade remained exclusive to China.

According to Byzantine historians, in the 6th century CE, two monks introduced sericulture and silk weaving techniques to the Byzantine Emperor. Since that, Byzantium became the largest producer of brocade in the Western world. The most common patterns consisted of Persian motifs and Christian-themed designs, but brocade remained accessible only to the wealthiest individuals due to its high price.

During the Renaissance period (14th-16th  century), Italy emerged as the primary producer of brocade. Its name is also derived from the Italian word “broccato,” meaning embossed fabric. Brocade during this period seamlessly combined sculptural-like lines with the delicate beauty of silk, with Asian-inspired textiles being particularly popular. Some painters even incorporated these patterns into their artworks.

In 1804, the introduction of jacquard looms significantly improved brocade’s production efficiency, making it more accessible beyond the nobility. During the Victorian era, brocade became a popular choice for everyday use, finding its way into people’s daily lives.

What is Brocade Fabric Made of?

Brocade can be made from various types of fibers, including natural and synthetic fibers, as well as some blended fibers, each imparting unique characteristics to the fabric. 

Among natural fibers, silk is the most commonly used material for making brocade. It has a smooth texture and exquisite patterns, making it highly sought after in both ancient and modern times. In addition to classic silk, cotton, wool, velvet, or polyester can also be used to create splendid brocade.

To enhance the opulence of brocade, gold or silver foil threads were traditionally incorporated during the weaving process. In ancient times, this signified status and nobility. However, nowadays, genuine gold or silver is rarely used. Instead, yarns made with copper powder and aluminum powder are commonly employed to achieve a shimmering effect resembling precious metals’ brilliance.

How is Brocade Fabric Made?

The production process of brocade is intricate. It begins with the processing of design drawings, which are scanned by a computer to generate pattern images. Then, a professional machine is used to create pattern plates, preparing for the weaving stage.

Meanwhile, the preparation of warp yarn and weft yarn is crucial. The warp yarn undergoes multiple processes, such as twisting and dyeing. While the weft yarn requires dyeing and winding. Through these procedures, the yarn is transformed into strong and elastic threads that can be woven manually or by machine using a jacquard loom.

The jacquard loom intertwined threads of different colors into the fabric, creating intricate patterns based on the design plate. It supports the production of a wide range of patterns to meet your various needs. The jacquard loom has automated brocade production, significantly increasing efficiency compared to traditional hand weaving. This automation saves labor costs and production time, thereby reducing overall production costs.

What Type of Fabric is Brocade?

Brocade offers a wide range of patterns, designs, and styles, with variations in materials that each carry unique cultural influences. Here are some common types of brocade:

  • Continuous Brocade

This fabric features uninterrupted patterns across its entire width, creating a seamless design. It requires precise control of the loom and skilled craftsmanship. Continuous brocade is often used for special occasions, formal attire, and semi-formal purposes, creating visually stunning effects.

  • Discontinuous Brocade

Unlike continuous brocade, this type does not have a seamless repetition of patterns across the fabric’s width. It consists of different sections or motifs. The production process involves manipulating the loom or using different pattern plates to intentionally interrupt the pattern at certain points. It can be applied in clothing or decorative items, offering a unique and eye-catching appeal.

  • Himroo Brocade

Also known as Himru Brocade, it predominantly originates from India. This fabric is made from a blend of silk and cotton, offering both luxury and comfort. Himroo brocade is highly regarded for its beauty and durability. It is often used in traditional Indian garments such as sarees, dupattas, or men’s turbans. It is also chosen for cultural celebrations to enhance the ambiance.

  • Zari Brocade

This special brocade incorporates metallic threads, typically made of gold or silver, woven together with other types of yarn, such as silk, to create a shimmering raised pattern effect. 

Zari brocade has a rich history, often associated with traditions in India, Persia, and the Middle East. The patterns draw inspiration from nature and mythology. It is commonly used as material for traditional attire and can also be employed in various home decor projects.

  • Metallic Brocade

Similar to Zari brocade, metallic brocade is a broader term used to describe any brocade that includes metallic threads. The metallic threads can be made of gold, silver, or other metal fibers. It can also be applied in the field of interior decoration.

  • Silk Brocade

Silk brocade is the most classic type of brocade, renowned for its natural beauty, luster, and excellent drape. It not only adds a touch of luxury to your designs but also exudes elegance. The smooth texture of silk makes it suitable for clothing and accessories, without causing any skin issues.

  • Cotton Brocade

It is highly breathable, thanks to its composition of cotton fibers. This makes it ideal for warm weather, as it helps to evaporate sweat faster. Its lightweight nature ensures overall comfort, providing a cool and airy feel. Additionally, it possesses good durability, capable of withstanding regular wear and tear.

  • Velvet Brocade

The combination of velvet and brocade creates a fabric with a  rich and beautiful appearance. Velvet brocade offers a soft and plush feel, adding a sense of opulence to garments or home decor. The inherent sheen of velvet enhances the fabric’s elegance and visual appeal.

  • Synthetic Brocade

Synthetic brocade is made from artificial fibers. So it is more affordable compared to natural fiber brocades. The fabric is highly durable and cost-effective. It has excellent wrinkle resistance and a wide range of applications, making it a practical choice that doesn’t impose any limitations on your creative endeavors.

What are Brocade Fabric Properties?

Brocade has been used from ancient times to the present day due to its exceptional qualities that set it apart from other textiles. Firstly, in terms of appearance, brocade exhibits a splendid look with raised patterns. Some even incorporate the shimmer of metallic threads, giving it a three-dimensional and captivating appeal. 

In terms of touch, whether it’s silk brocade, cotton brocade, or others, they all feel soft. And the unique texture adds to their distinctiveness.

Brocade can be found in various aspects of your life through the creative designs of designers. Additionally, thanks to special weaving techniques, brocade fabrics tend to be slightly thicker than regular fabrics, providing better strength and durability.

What is Brocade Fabric Used for?

Throughout history, brocade has been a symbol of nobility, worn and adorned by aristocrats. In today’s progressive culture, brocade has also found its place. 

Modern individuals often prefer lightweight and soft fabrics for their everyday clothing, which may not be the typical choice for brocade. However, traditional garments, ceremonial attire, and significant events still call for brocade with clear textures and exquisite patterns. Examples include evening gowns, wedding dresses, and church attire.

Brocade Coat

The pursuit of diverse home interior decoration is also prevalent among people. Luxurious and vibrant brocade can be utilized as tablecloths, curtains, pillow covers, and more. With its versatility, brocade can bring imagination to life when it comes to home decor, offering bold aesthetics and practicality.

How to Maintain Brocade Fabric?

To preserve its special texture and patterns, it is recommended to dry clean brocade fabric to prevent damage. If hand washing is necessary, please use cold water and a mild detergent. When removing moisture, gently press without wringing. Finally, store it in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture.

Why is Brocade so Expensive?

Brocade fabric is known for its exceptional luxury and intricate techniques used during production, which naturally increases its price compared to regular fabrics. If you purchase brocade made from high-quality materials such as silk, the price will be even higher.

The production of brocade requires specialized equipment and skilled workers, which also adds to the production costs. However, brocade with artistic value is worth collecting and can be a unique investment for you.


Brocade has endured through history and the choices made by different eras remain relevant to this day. While its prominence in everyday clothing may have diminished, it still radiates in other domains. As a rare masterpiece of textile art, brocade remains an excellent choice for your next project or purchase.

FAQ About Brocade Fabric

Is Brocade Fabric Easy to Sew?

Sewing brocade can be more challenging compared to working with regular fabrics. Brocade is heavier, and its raised texture patterns or metallic threads on the surface can present obstacles. Specialized tools and appropriate sewing techniques are required. Seeking advice from experienced seamstresses or entrusting them with bringing your ideas to life.

What is a Good Substitute Fabric for Brocade?

Damask is a recommended alternative fabric. It also features raised pattern designs with a wide range of options, including floral and geometric patterns, among others. Additionally, it is more affordable than brocade and easier to care for.

What Color is Brocade Fabric?

Traditional Brocade fabrics are typically available in gold, silver, black, and red, symbolizing various meanings. However, modern brocade offers a much broader range of colors. It can be soft, vibrant, or even feature intricate patterns woven with multiple colors. The color of custom brocade can be tailored to your preferences or design requirements.

More Resources:

What is Jacquard Fabric – Source: Sinosilk

What is Twill – Source: Sinosilk

What is Satin – Source: Sinosilk

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