In this thread, Dan Howard dispels the gaming Myth about the flexibility of armor (apart from mail). In gaming "Light armors"like leather and Cloth is imagined as the thickness and comfort of winter or leather jackets when in actuality as armor they need to be much tougher and thicker.
Imagining Hardened leather is easy if I take a look at my old ROTC boots. In the discussion thread about Layering, armor strong enough to stop any blow is very inflexible. The boots I have, in their hardest part, would be roughly 1/5ths of a cm. I remember the boots with dread. They were so painful to wear because they didn't bend where my toes would. If you can imagine you leather shoes and look at the point where it would bend, and imagine how it would feel if that part didn't and you needed it to when you ran thats how painful the experience was. I took a hammer and tried to mash up the leather to give enough wear to bend but as much a I hammered at it the thing was as tougher than the toughest rubberized plastic I encountered. It is leather by the way by the texture I can feel.
Doing the math, an average 4mm or 4/10ths a centimeter around the area of a torso and sleeves 7150sq.cm would weigh has much as 5kg or 12lbs. Imagine the toughness of your shoe soles and what you put them through as lames (rectangular arrayed pieces) or scales. If you are going to do armor experiments take old boot leather, measure the thickness and whack at it with a sharpened sword. The Rigidity of the material Stops your thrust from going deeper by the friction it acts on the weapon. If you stabbed it with a small blade, may penetrate but you can feel the force ebb away because of the friction acting on the edge. You will have a problem pulling it out. That friction of pulling it out, is acting on the blade as you push it in.
10lbs of leather armor is only good for the Body (torso, abdomen and groin), one would need 4lbs for greeves and 2lbs for bracers, and helmets would be around 2lbs.
Layered Cloth is very effective in diffusing force when impacted . It is also unusually inflexible when layered up to 7-8 or 15 times and stitched together. Imagine a thick wad of cloth or paper, now staple its borders and afterwards try to bend it. I think in principle, 1cm of heavy gauge fabric is going to be that stiff.
Now consider strips of wood, bamboo or cane reeds woven into "basket" armor. We had some old rotting wicker furniture which we bashed up as a kid. They were unusually tough, especially when I still have them and they are around 15 years old right now. Flexibility and Elasticity allows an object to deform without taking serious damage to its structure. By itself only the thickest and heaviest wicker would be adequate for combat, it should be examined that they were used as durable practice shields and by Ancient armies.
Wicker Armor is begun to like and have incorporated in the game I'm designing. Light wicker is combined with layered canvas to make some pretty nice looking shaped cuirass/breastplates. It can appear as wide bamboo strips woven or thick multi-layered Canes with layered cloth stitched over it and comfortable linen beneath it. It can also be made to be fairly flexible at the abdomen area. The combination of wicker and cloth would be cooler to wear if the wicker did not trap air as well as cloth to allow ventilation to cool body and more comfortable by distributing some of the weight to the hips. I wonder if they can be made into greeves and bracers. i'd imagine thick bamboo or wood strips with layered cloth.
Treated and lacquered they serve as great ornamental breast plates for ceremony and parades.
I plan to make a large 3m 3-person giant Loom available in the setting. I'm not going to change the cost of cloth, because much of the demand usually run by the "state" to supply it sails, sacks, and all sorts of materials. It will off-set leather poor regions.