The ridges, which are also called wales, vary from fine to wide. The ridges produce the effect of a number cords placed together. The etymological explanation of the word corduroy still remains an unsettled matter among lexicographers. The word "Corduroy" appears like a French word roughly translated as 'cord for the king'. But the word seems to have existed before in England than France. What ever be the controversy about the etymology of the word as Shipley (1945) puts: was early deemed a kingly cloth.
From the point of classification, corduroy falls in the category of weft-pile fabrics, which means the threads are woven at right angles across a warp in making the fabric. Since corduroy is a pile woven fabric it needs further cutting. The pile in corduroy can be increased in depth, height or length by affecting the density of the material. In this fabric rows or ridges can only run parallel to the warp. This puts limitation on the fabric because the piles cannot be too thick, the background is always visible and the piles are actually ridge like. The fabric is designed for light wear. Traditionally it was rather an expensive fabric because of the volume of work and special machinery needed. Because of the peculiarity of the pile ridges it is eminently suited for light drapery as it dropped well because of the ridges. The work on corduroy is complete only at the final stage of cutting. Master craftsmen, who could bring out pattern from the way they cut, were the backbone of the industry. The pile appears only where it is cut. The selective cutting of various areas can produce different patterns.
In corduroy making the selection of yarn is a tricky one. The yarn for pile weft, the binder and the warp have to be different. The pile weft would call for yarn that is heavy, soft and with light twist. The warp must be of medium weight and fine. The binder has to be very fine and strong. As for color, all the three should be of the same hue with the binder and warp often going in for a darker hue. This is because the background is visible and the darker hue will enhance the visual appeal of the fabric.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the corduroy cloth making is the cutting stage of the operation. The cutting stage is not done at the end. The fabric is cut on the loom itself after nearly 6 inches of weaving. When the weaving and cutting are complete the cloth is takes out of the loom and spread on a table and brushed somewhat vigorously in all directions. In the past weavers used special devices for cutting. Now a pair of scissors is used in cottage industries. It can be seen that corduroy fabric making required not only skill and labor, it was also so much time consuming.
What could be the reason for the abiding popularity of corduroy No doubt it is a highly romanticized cloth. The hidden persuasion to use a highly romanticized product by either by the media or by the association with legendary celebrities cannot be underestimated. Gertrude, who played a pivotal role in the life of Picasso, is painted in a corduroy (Luber, 1997). Gertrude's corduroy is a symbol of a radically different femininity. The endless gossip on the carnality of Gertrude behind the attire is an old version of the media myth that feeds many of the fashion trends of today. Corduroy today, as in the past, is a celebrity fabric. Apparel is a powerful symbol of a person's identity. Shakespeare