Health Clothing


In the 1920s and 1930s, Biltmore Industries in Asheville was well-known around the country for its traditional “homespun” wool cloth, which was woven by hand and known to have been worn by Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. I’m sure the natural cloth was comfortable and stylish, but apparently it was healthy, too. I take this from no less an authority than Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Convinced that natural light was a “life stimulant,” Kellogg encouraged his patients to wear white clothes and porous fibers that allowed light to reach the skin. He was so impressed with the Biltmore Hand-Woven Homespun that he drove from Battle Creek to Asheville to inspect the operation first-hand. He declared the Biltmore cloth “The most remarkable discovery in Health Clothing that ever has been made.”

I found this impressive claim in a pamphlet in the North Carolina Collection, which was accompanied by several samples of the Biltmore Homespun. I’ve included a scan of one here. Unfortunately there aren’t enough scraps to make a suit out of, or else I would put Dr. Kellogg’s theory to the test.