Cotton

Originated in India and was known by ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean. It first came into prominence in Western Europe with the emergence of the East India Company and the importation of Indian painted calicoes. Frequently prohibited by law to protect the native wool and silk industries, bans were finally lifted both sides of the channel after 1750 and cotton revolutionized the textile industries. It was light, cheap and could be printed in limitless designs, for the first time allowing the lower levels of society access to fashionable dress.