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07 June 2023

Unveiling the Rich History of Calico Bags

The history of calico bags is deeply interwoven with the fabric of human society. Tracing its roots requires us to delve into textile history, environmental consciousness, and the evolution of sustainable consumer practices.

The Genesis of Calico Fabric

Calico, a heavy plain-woven textile, is made from unbleached and often not fully processed cotton. The fabric originated from the city of Calicut in southwestern India during the 11th century. The traditional weavers known as cāliyans dyed and printed the raw fabric in bright hues, making calico prints popular in Europe.

During the 18th century, England imported cheap calico prints from India. To protect the local woollen industry, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1700 to prevent the importation of dyed or printed calicoes from India, China, or Persia. This shifted demand to imported grey cloth instead. Despite the restriction on imported finished goods, calico prints remained popular, and by the 19th century, industrial advancements led to the commercial method of printing using engraved rollers.

The History of Calico Bags

Captivating the attention of European traders during the height of the East India Trade Company, calico bags played a crucial role in storing and transporting a wide range of goods, including tea, spices, beans, and more, as the material allowed for sufficient airflow, preventing spoilage of perishable goods that often had to spend months at sea. As it gained popularity, it evolved into more than just utilitarian items. A printed calico cloth called "chintz" emerged, adorned with elaborate floral and arabesque patterns of varying complexity, which transformed it into fashionable accessories and even clothing for the masses. 

Present-Day Popularity & Uses

Fast forward to the 20th century, amidst growing environmental concerns, the calico bags came to the fore. Single-use plastic bags began to receive criticism for their harmful environmental impact. As a result, reusable bags made from other materials gained traction as a sustainable alternative. The strength, versatility, and reusability of sustainable calico bags made them a popular choice for eco-conscious consumers.

The history of calico bags is a testament to their longevity and usefulness. Today, they continues to be an environmentally responsible choice popular for shopping, promotional events, and even as fashion accessories. The versatility and simplicity of calico have allowed these bags to adapt to changing consumer needs and trends, maintaining their relevance in a rapidly evolving world​.


In conclusion, the history of calico bags is a fascinating journey that reflects humanity's evolving relationship with the environment. From the bustling textile markets of 11th century Calicut to the eco-conscious consumers of the 21st century, this fabric have stood the test of time, proving their value and versatility over centuries.

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