Cotton comes from the cotton plant, a native shrub grown around the world in subtropical regions. Cotton can most often times be found spun into yarn or thread which is then turned into textiles.
While cotton has always been one of the most widely used natural fibers for creating textiles there was a brief period of time around the 1960s where natural fibers lost popularity to synthetic fibers. Through decisive action on the part of cotton manufacturers this trend was quickly reversed.
Today cotton textiles are some of the most popular fabrics due to their breathability and softness. While there are some synthetic fibers that come close to matching the properties of cotton, it still holds the crown as being the most commonly used natural fiber. Some of the more common textiles that are spun from cotton included terrycloth, denim, chambray, corduroy and twill. Nearly all T-shirts, undergarments and socks are made from cotton textiles due to their moisture wicking abilities. Cotton is also commonly used for making bed sheets.
In addition to being a popular stand-alone textile component, cotton can also be found in many different thread and yarn blends. Cotton is commonly mixed with such synthetic fibers as polyester and rayon. These blends are created to produce threads with different properties such as increased wrinkle resistance or enhanced stretch.
Far from being a uniform product, there are many different types of cotton plants, each producing a different type of cotton fiber. Though most of the different cotton plants are notable for their ability to resist different diseases or grow under different conditions certain types of cotton plants are cultivated purely for their distinct fibers. Egyptian cotton is a notable example of this. Egyptian cotton plants produce extra long cotton fibers that can be turned into an extremely soft and durable textile. For this reason Egyptian cotton is often times more expensive than other types of cotton.
Shiny cotton is a textile created from a processed cotton fiber that resembles satin. While this is a popular choice for clothing manufacturers the processing required to produce the signature shine removes many of the beneficial properties of cotton including its ability to wick moisture and breathe.