Brocade fabrics mainly consist of solid or multi-colored silk threads, often times combined with gold or silver metallic threads. Brocade is woven by adding a supplementary weft to the weave, creating the illusion that sections have been embossed into the fabric, or embroidered on top of it.

Brocade is typically woven on a draw loom. It is a supplementary weft technique; that is, the ornamental brocading is produced by a supplementary, non-structural, weft in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp threads together. The purpose of this is to give the appearance that the weave actually was embroidered on.

Brocade fabrics are used in modern times mostly for upholstery and draperies. They are also used for evening and formal clothing, as well as costumes. The use of precious and semiprecious stones in the adornment of brocades is not common but has been replaced with the use of sequins and beading as decoration. Brocade fabrics are now largely woven on a Jacquard loom that is able to create many complex tapestry-like designs using the jacquard technique.