It got me thinking. Velvet has always been a luxurious and expensive fabric with the best quality made of silk making it a favoured fabric of royalty back in the day. Before industrialisation the best quality hand made velvet was very costly partly because of the use of silk but also because the weaving process was very labour intensive. It required a special loom which wove two pieces of fabric joined together at the same time. It was then taken off the loom and cut apart by highly skilled workers. As well it was difficult to clean. So obviously not something the average working person would be wearing.
With industrialisation and the increasing availability of cotton (which can be used instead of silk although the fabric doesn't feel quite as luxurious) velvet became less expensive but still in the luxury fabric range, not least because cleaning it remained difficult. When I was a young woman, my mother made me an evening dress out of rich dark blue cotton velvet. It did feel wonderful to wear but without modern cleaning techniques I would have been terrified that something would have been spilled on it.
These days, while the fabulously wealthy can still have gowns of handmade silk velvet, the rest of us have to settle for lesser quality. You can still buy cotton velvet - I bought some recently to make a cloak for a historical costume - but the range is not as great as when I was growing up. You are more likely to find rolls of synthetic velvet made of polyester, nylon, viscose or acetate which is generally cheaper and lighter weight - older style velvets can be very heavy - and some synthetic velvet has spandex added to it to make 'stretch velvet'.
While these synthetic velvets are more practical you would be unlikely to mistake them for the older kind. They simply don't have that luxurious feel and texture. As so often happens, the search for practical and cheap means the quality has diminished - although there is a luxury blend of viscose and silk fabric which is both soft and reflective and shows that new can still be beautiful and sensual if not necessarily cheap.