If you wanted to make any serious money in the ancient world then you needed to invest in the Silk Road. This was a series of lucrative trade routes that linked the empires of the West to the civilisations of the East. It wasn’t just land based but also had a maritime aspect. Silk was the main imported good from the distant and mysterious land of China, but it was not the only item traded. It was not all about physical products either. There was also the transfer of ideas and philosophies, the ways of making and creating art and technology advances. Religions also made their way back and forth influencing and informing both ends and all points in-between. There was a flow of information and news plus the downside that it allowed the spread of plague.
The Silk road eventually led to many new dressmaking fabrics becoming available, originally to the wealthy and overtime this has expanded whereby many people are now taking on hobbies and businesses related to dressmaking. So much so that businesses like http://www.quality-fabrics.co.uk/dressmaking-fabrics-14-c.asp are providing whole ranges of fabrics that before these trade routes would have been impossible.
There were links before the establishment of the official Silk Road as you would expect. The initial trade was with the fine horses breeders on the Northern steppes. Another product was the green jade of China that drew many admirers. It was a great boasting point and a sign of extreme affluence for a Westerner to have an example of this fine material in their home or place of work. As technologies and information was passed back and forth new routes and passable tracks through mountain ranges were shared, further opening up the continent. New ports were opened to traders and the navigation of the sea was made easier for sailors to find their way to the rich ports of Korea, Persia, Malaysia and China itself.
This trade continued with the establishment of the Chinese military dominance allowing the free trade routes to be open and protected but it also saw the start of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople. This was the conduit to goods passing into the West and North of Europe and strengthened the wealth and power of the Byzantines. It also provided a strong trade income to the Chinese at the other end. In-between, the wealth and spices of India flowed in to the routes both land and maritime and Baghdad saw immense wealth transform it as the main stop off point for the land based route. The coming of the Mongol Horde and subsequent Empire, they created, rather than break up the routes brought greater stability to the region and allowed the Mongols to send diplomats to the West and establish communications.
The blending of ideas and philosophies was the second effect of the routes. Christianity was sent east and monks would look to teach and establish monasteries whilst the teaching of Hinduism and Buddha came the other way. This resulted in a blended effect that we still feel today.