What is "Box Cloth" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 28-May-2024 ( ago)
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Box Cloth: Discover the Fabric that Transformed Fashion History

Brief History and Origin of Box Cloth

Box cloth is a dense, closely woven woolen fabric known for its durability and water-resistant properties. This textile has been employed for over two centuries, with its roots tracing back to the early 19th century in England. The fabric gained popularity due to its suitability for the temperate British climate, especially in the manufacturing of coachmen's driving coats. It was initially manufactured by traditional woolen mills and, at that time, was mainly used in protective garments for carriage drivers to shield them from rain and wind.

Types of Box Cloth

  • Traditional Box Cloth: This is the authentic and original type, made from wool. It is dense, heavily milled, and felted to make it weatherproof.
  • Modern Box Cloth: This type incorporates synthetic fibers or treatments to enhance water resistance and durability. Some are also blended with other fibers like cotton for a different texture.

Tips in Handling Box Cloth

  • Cleaning: Due to its woolen nature, it is advisable to dry clean box cloth. Avoid washing it with water as it may lose its shape and water-resistance.
  • Storage: Store in a cool, dry place and ensure it is hung properly to avoid wrinkles or loss of shape.
  • Ironing: Use low heat and always iron inside out. Its better to use a cloth between the fabric and iron to prevent scorching or shine.

Profiles of Major International Manufacturers or Users

  • Hainsworth: Based in England, Hainsworth has a rich history dating back over 230 years. They are among the leaders in manufacturing high-quality woolen fabrics, including box cloth. Their fabrics have been used by the British Royal Family and the military for their durability and luxury.
  • Worstedtex: Worstedtex specializes in producing high-grade woolen cloths. They have carved a niche for themselves in the production of box cloth, which is revered for its top-notch quality and resilience.
  • Johnstons of Elgin: With a history stretching back to 1797, this Scottish-based company specializes in luxurious cashmere and fine woolens, including box cloth. They are known for combining traditional craftsmanship with modern design.
  • Marling & Evans: Operating since the late 18th century, Marling & Evans are based in the United Kingdom. They are renowned for producing traditional and unadulterated woolen fabrics, and their box cloth is sought after by bespoke tailors.
  • Dugdale Bros & Co: Established in 1896, Dugdale Bros & Co is a heritage British cloth merchant. They provide high-quality box cloth, among other textiles, which are a staple in luxury tailoring.

Applications of Box Cloth

  • Outdoor Garments: Box cloth's water-resistant properties make it ideal for manufacturing coats, jackets, and capes meant for outdoor use, especially in wet or windy weather.
  • Upholstery: The fabric's durability and luxurious feel make it suitable for upholstery purposes, particularly in high-end automobiles.
  • Accessories: Box cloth is also used to make hats, bags, and other accessories that require a sturdy, weather-resistant material.


Box cloth is a testament to the ingenuity and mastery of textile manufacturing during the 19th century. Its development was geared towards solving practical problems faced by coachmen in inclement weather. Over time, it has not lost its relevance. The fusion of wools natural properties with the arduous processing techniques gave birth to a fabric that transcends trends. In modern times, Box Cloth continues to be sought-after for its practicality, class, and understated elegance. As sustainable fashion becomes more prominent, Box Cloth stands as a beacon reminding the industry of the virtues of durability and timeless appeal. For consumers, investing in Box Cloth garments or accessories means embracing both heritage and quality. Manufacturers such as Hainsworth and Johnstons of Elgin continue to champion the legacy of this venerable fabric.

Box cloth
This is a woolen cloth that is milled heavily so as to impart a felt like appearance.

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