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I have a civilization that lives not exactly underwater, but completely surrounded by water in which their cities are both submerged underwater or built floating right on top of it. Almost all of their resources are limited to the ocean. What materials would be used for them to make clothes out of? I have ideas such as shark/whale/seal leathers. Would seaweed be possible? Or what other oceanic resources would they use. Or even for building resources and shoemaking, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Related and for interest, not duplicates: Winter clothing for mermaids and Seashell tops viable for mermaids. $\endgroup$ Aug 29 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ A civilizaton which has underwater of floating cities has a technology far more advanced than ours. Surely their enormously advanced technology has found a way to grow plants or animals which produce suitable fibers. (For example, staring from the molluscs which produce the expensive sea silk in our primitive civilization. Or using the cellulose of seaweeds to make rayon.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 29 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ keep in mind clothing is a lot less useful under water, insulating factor is almost zero and there is no injury from sunlight to worry about. so a good question is to ask what are they using it for. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 30 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ I heard recently on NPR that sargassum is used to make shoes. It may be possible to make other clothing items with it as well. $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Aug 30 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ Too short for an answer but answers nonetheless... Google: Seaweed textiles: google.com/… $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Aug 30 at 14:20

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Fish leather is a remarkably soft clothing material and is a very low technology option. You can find simple recipes on YouTube that require little more than a trout skin, some vegetable oil and eggs. If your people are surrounded by water and have access to plant based oils and eggs (seabirds perhaps) than a soft textile is well within reach. For hardier clothing marine mammal skins would be better and are made with Stone Age technology as evidenced by the Inuit who live on ice sheets.

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Shells!

shells

Shell bikinis are great but they have been so done. Shell codpieces really not much! Nix here looks good in his and your characters will look great sporting their fancy man-shells.

You can do lots of other things with shells - string them on strings to make stuff, glue them on - shells!

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    $\begingroup$ lmao I love this @Willk $\endgroup$ Aug 30 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for providing penis protection $\endgroup$ Aug 30 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ Don't translate this into Spanish... $\endgroup$
    – Pablo H
    Aug 31 at 14:52
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Byssus. Difficult to put together enough for clothes, but people could gather some byssus every time they harvest mussels for food. The clothes would be expensive, but it is doable.

Fibre from sea weed? I don't know, In water there is not evolutionary pressure to grow fibres strong enough to sustain their weight, but on the other hand algae growing close to the shore must be able to resist the rough shaking coming from the waves, so there could be sea weed with strong enough fibres there. But I suspect they would be used only for the cheaper clothes. Actually I just realised that probably you can get fibres strong enough to make clothes from the root of sea weeds. To keep them anchored to the sea bottom they have to be strong.

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Seal intestines can be cleaned and slit lengthways, then the strips sewn together with sinew to make waterproof outer garments. Seal gut parkas have long been made by Arctic peoples.

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Apparently whale baleen can be used to make baskets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baleen_basketry

So maybe some sort of weaved pieces like rattan armor made from whale bristles rattan armor

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Perch skin used to be treated and used in Sweden as a cheap alternatives to other skin types, when smaller amounts of skin were needed. Perch skin is pretty tough and since perch are plentiful, it would be possible to use it for clothes, although using hides from larger animals is a lot easier. But were there no larger animals available, one would have to do with what is at hand.

Searching on Google for perch skin, I found this article from a Swedish university, where skin from salmon, cod, perch and lumpfish were prepared and tested in regards to strength. The writer claims that the skin types are strong and long lasting enough to be used for furniture in public settings. This requires high strength leather, so clothes should not be a problem: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:331808/FULLTEXT01.pdf

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