Whilst the make up of any cloth is determined in equal measure by the inherent characteristics of the fibres, the density and method of weave or the print, it’s the finish of the cloth that most determines how a fabric will look and feel, and to what use it can be put.
And whilst a fire retardant, or crease resistant, or pleated finish can be applied to many cloths, the result and the success of the fabric is only as robust as the finish.
Printing whether by hand- block, roller, screen or digital means is a finish. Other finishes are to enhance performance, durability, touch, laundering, look, or add proofing–against fire, sunlight, moth etc.
Some finishes change the structure and hand in a less attractive way – for example most fire treatments create a fabric that is too stiff to drape nicely, so there is sometimes a choice between resistance and proofing, just as shower-proof materials are on the whole more comfortable to wear than water-proofed ones.