The apparel economy is truly global. From earliest times, it has extended to the limits of human occupation. In each geographic area, people exploited native plants, animals, and minerals. The Chinese learned the secrets of the silkworm; linen grew in the Nile valley, cotton in the Indus River valley; Mesopotamians raised sheep for their wool. Shellfish found at the eastern end of the Mediterranean sea provided precious purple dye. Polar cultures relied upon the furs and skins of local creatures, both land and sea. Natives of what is now the Pacific coast of Canada used cedar bark garments to shed rain; some peoples made cloaks of grasses.
In time, precious textiles, furs, and ornaments moved by long, difficult overland trade routes or hazardous water voyages. Later, textile centers evolved where people demanded large quantities of luxury fabrics and were willing to pay well for them. Byzantium, as well as Sicily, produced fine silks during the Middle Ages, although they were far from the original sources of silk. Even so, proximity of raw materials gave some geographic areas advantages over others. Certain districts in Italy, Germany, Flanders, and England became textile centers, specializing in locally produced fibers and distinctive techniques. In medieval times, traveling merchants transported fine textiles from production centers to regional trade fairs on a regular basis.
The ramifications of trade in textiles and other apparel materials extended far beyond the obvious. In an-
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