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  • The earliest buttons date to prehistoric times, and in spite of millennia of change in fashion and manufacturing techniques, the button has endured as the most common fabric fastener. Though buttons were used for thousands of years, the buttonhole was not invented until sometime in the 13th century.
  • The buttonhole is thought to have been brought to Europe from the Middle East by knights returning from the Crusades, and its advent led to a surge in button use.
  • By the early 20th century, the prevailing style was much simpler, reflecting the more sedate look of the growing white-collar class. Inexpensive matched shirt buttons for men and women were available in five-and-dime stores around 1910. Plastic buttons became widely available in the 1930s, though most typical shirt buttons were still made of sea shells or other natural materials.
  • The common material for buttons is polyester, which is a special kind of plastic with properties that make it suitable for buttons. A variety of chemical dyes are added to the polyester to make different colors.
  • To make buttons with the pearlescent sheen of shell buttons, red carbonate is added to the polyester. Black buttons are made with the addition of carbon black, and white buttons are made with titanium. The button making process also requires a chemical catalyst that hardens the polyester, and wax.
  • Makers of plastic buttons are exploring innovations in design through the use of alternate materials and combinations. While buttons made of standard plastic types continue to dominate production, designs that incorporate synthetic and natural materials are gaining ground.
  • Nylon and polyester remain the most popular materials for practical and economic reasons. Unlike metal, nylon and polyester do not rust easily. They are also durable and retain paints and coatings longer.
  • Prices of plastic buttons depend largely on material costs, operating costs and competition from other countries. The higher cost of raw materials has prompted many suppliers to push up prices. Upgrading equipment to boost competitiveness also influences pricing decisions.
  • The latent demand for plastic buttons and button backs, blanks, molds, and other parts excluding buttons and button parts made of precious metals and precious and semi-precious stones is not actual or historic sales. Nor is latent demand future sales. In fact, latent demand can be lower either lower or higher than actual sales if a market is inefficient.
  • The current export price for polyester and nylon plastic buttons from Taiwan is around $1.25 per gross. Multiple-material buttons are priced at $3.20 per gross

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