- 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
- 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
- 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
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