Fashion Writing Instruments

The Parallel Evolution of Fashion and Writing Instruments

From the very first textile production and crude written communication, to recent fashion trends and the latest in writing instrument technology, we take a look at the parallel development of clothing and pens.

Fashion Writing Instruments
30,000 BC

Evidence of flax fibres that were spun, knotted and dyed to produce colourful textiles, most likely for clothing.

35,000 BC – 10,000 BC

Earliest evidence of communication by means of symbolic pictographs.

5500 BC

Ancient Egyptians wore light clothing made from linen or cotton. Men wore a loincloth and a kilt and women wore shoulder strapped dresses. Egyptians shaved their hair, wore wigs and were fond of jewellery.

5000 BC

Inscriptions discovered in what is now Sudan and Southern Egypt are thought to be the world’s oldest form of written language.

4000-3500 BC

The Chinese started producing silk for use as paper and clothing. The colour of the wearable silk became an indication of social class during the Tang Dynasty.

4000 BC

The surface of a moist clay was scratched with a stylus-like tool made from either bronze or bone.

3300 BC

The remains of Ötzi, Tyrolean Iceman, suggest sophisticated clothing. He wore a cloak made of woven grass and had a coat, belt, leggings, loincloth, bearskin cap and waterproof shoes made from animal hide.

3000 BC

Egyptians developed hieroglyphics.

2697 BC

Chinese Philosopher Tien-Lcheu perfected ‘Indian Ink’ from a mixture of soot, pine smoke, musk, lamp oil and donkey gelatine.

2000 – 1400 BC

The Minoans have the earliest example of sewn clothing. Men wore brightly coloured loincloths made from linen, leather and wool. Minoan Woman wore low-cut blouses and flared skirts to emphasise their figures, comparable with 19th century women’s fashion.

2000 BC

Earliest evidence of Egyptians writing on papyrus.

2000-1580 BC

Hieroglyphic script adopted by Minoans.

1450 BC

Minoans develop Linear Script B, still legible today as it’s very close to ancient Greek.

1700-1500 BC

Pictographs or hieroglyphics were replaced by the alphabet.

1300 BC

The Romans used a metal stylus to mark thin sheets of wax on wooden tablets. The flat end of the stylus was used to erase mistakes. In Asia, scribes typically used a stylus made from bronze.

1200 BC

The ink formula previously invented by Tien-Lcheu was now considered the norm.

800 BC – 500 BC

Ancient Greek woman wore rectangular woollen clothes called peplos, which were folded, pinned and tied at the waist with holes for the arms and head. They would not cut their hair unless they were in mourning.

400 BC

Egyptian scribes used the first reed pens. A reed pen is dipped into ink with a split in its point retaining the ink.

200 BC

Quill pens were developed as a more flexible and durable alternative to reed pens.

105 BC

Wood-fibre paper invented in China but not widely used in Europe until paper mills were built during the 1400s.

196 BC

The Rosetta Stone was written in the three scripts used in Ancient Egypt at the time: Hieroglyphic, Demotic and Greek.

400 AD

Tunic and trousers with attached socks were found in the Thorsberg Moor in Germany.

400 AD

A stable form of ink was developed using iron-salts, nutgalls and gum. It became the commonly used formula for centuries to follow.

1000 AD

Fancy fabrics such as silk were becoming increasingly popular for those who could afford them. Women commonly wore ankle-length tunics.

500 – 1500 AD

As well as writing on parchment, Anglo-Saxons used a metal or bone stylus on tablets filled with wax.

1600 AD

High-heels were adopted by Western European aristocrats. Theses became a status symbol and are believed to be where the phrase ‘well heeled’ originates.

600 – 1800 AD

Europeans wrote on parchment with a quill pen originating from Seville.

1600 – 1750

The Consumer Revolution saw fashionable clothes made available at lower cost, no longer just for the elite.


Pencil lead was invented independently in France and Australia.

1800 – 1850

With the Romantic Era, clothing designs became more complex and featured padded hems, twills and other decorative additions.

1800 – 1850  

A metal pen point was patented in 1803 but was not commercially exploited. Steel nibs came into common use in the 1830s and replaced quill pens. The quality of steel nibs was improved by tipping them with Iridium, Rhodium and Osmium alloys.

1850 – 1890s

Victorian fashion was characterised by the iconic bloomer dress, large structured petticoats and steam moulded corsets.


Insurance broker Lewis Edson Waterman invented the first commercially viable fountain pen.

1914 – 1918

Wartime clothing was practical with subdued colours and without lavish decoration. Footwear was generally made from wool gaiters to save leather for military uses.

1888 – 1916

The principle of the ballpoint pen was introduced in patents by John Loud and Van Vechten Riesberg but was not commercially exploited.


WW2 saw a clothing ration in Britain. Clothing production was focused on efficiency and utility.


The modern ballpoint pen was invented by Josef Lazlo Biro and his brother Georg. The first commercial models were made in 1943 and launched in the US in 1945 to immediate success.


Pierre Cardin opened his first womenswear boutique.


Pierre Cardin was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale as his ready-to-wear clothing was seen as a threat to the traditional fashion world.


Bic developed an industrial process for manufacturing ballpoint pens, dramatically lowering the unit cost. By 1957, the ballpen had become the most widely used pen in the world.


Advances in fabric technology allowed Pierre Cardin to incorporate metallic fabrics and vinyl into his space-age designs.


The Tokyo Stationery Company developed fibre-tipped pens or ‘felt-tips’.


Mary Quant invented the mini skirt.

1980s – 1990s

Rollerball pens were developed, employing a mobile ball and using gel or water-based ink for smoother writing.


Bic sold their 100 billionth ballpoint pen.


Brightly coloured clothes and dip-dyed hair characterised European fashion trends.

2010 – 2012

Fountain pen sales rose in a worldwide resurgence that continues to this day.

2017 – 2018

Ripped clothes dominate fashion, including shredded jeans, jumpers and tops.

2017 – 2018

The Pierre Cardin Writing Collection is launched in the UK offering an exclusive collection of premium pens and notebooks.

The Pierre Cardin Writing Collection represents the pinnacle of fashion design and writing instrument development. Explore the range here.

Exceed Award Supplier Pen Warehouse

Pen Warehouse and Snap Products Win Exceed Top Supplier Award

Trade-exclusive suppliers The Pen Warehouse and Snap Products were delighted to be recognised with Supplier of the Year awards at the inaugural Exceed Awards, hosted by Charles Alexander Distribution.

The first Exceed Awards saw a fun-filled evening in Leicester, including a performance from boy band 5IVE. As well as recognising Everything Branded’s top suppliers, the event raised money for the Bodie Hodges Foundation. This fantastic charity supports bereaved families following the death of a child. You can find out more about their important work at

Snap Products and The Pen Warehouse were proud to each receive the coveted Supplier of the Year award. Head of Sales and Marketing, Rob Hayes, accepted the award on behalf of both companies. “A huge thank you to CAD for putting on a fantastic evening and for recognising us with these honours. We’re looking forward to continuing our close working relationship and taking part in the awards next year.”

The Pen Warehouse is the UK’s top promotional pen supplier with the widest range in Europe. Snap Products is a digital print pioneer making waves in the industry with leading-edge print capability and fast lead times.

Pen Warehouse win Exceed Supplier Award