The 88 Cloths (聖衣 Kurosu ) are the armors worn by Athena's Saints. There is one cloth for each constellation. There are 48 Bronze Cloths, 24 Silver Cloths, 12 Gold Cloths, 4 Cloths of unknown material and, outside of the 88, one more Cloth that is Athena's Cloth, a God Cloth.
Kurumada gave semi-anthropomorphic style to the Cloths. For example, an Aries object of Cloth will not walk, speak, fight like a golden metal Ram-man or transform from ram to man, but the Aries object will fly to join its owner, it will turn into armor and can be worn by its owner such as Mu.
It's an usual trait that the stronger the Cloth is, the more it covers the wearer's body, with a few exceptions. While Bronze Cloths cover a small part of the body, usually the most important vital points and not much more, the Gold Cloths leaves very small parts of the body uncovered, like the upper part of the legs and arms.
The Cloths are of extreme importance to Saints both defensively and offensively.
While Saints have surpassed normal humans and have super human capabilities, they are not invincible by any means and are still susceptible to physical harm. Saints also have great offensive prowess not only because their arms and legs are covered by the Cloth, but most importantly becuse it creates a sort of synergy with the Saint and his/her constellation, helping to burn his/her Cosmo at a much greater extent than normal.
However, Cloths are not weapons and do not contain their own source of power. Cloths can only reach their potential when the wearer burns their own cosmos. If a wearer has no cosmos, then the Cloth is useless. When Seiya first donned his Pegasus Cloth, he expected the Cloth to be a sort of a magical item and essentially fight for him, but instead he was semi-immobilized because he was not burning his cosmos. The same with the Sagittarius Cloth against Aiolia before even knowing what the Gold Saints, Seventh Sense was.
In the case that a Saint would burn his/her Cosmos, the Cloth amplifies the saint's skills greatly allowing him/her to reach their full potential. That is why Seiya managed to damage Shaina, a Silver Saint, because he was able to utilize the cloth properly. It also happened to Kanon in the Hades saga, when he had his Gemini Cloth he was able to fight on par with Rhadamanthys, but when he returned it to his brother, he was no match for Rhadamanthys anymore.
Cloths are known to be living beings, because they are filled with Cosmos, the source of all life and in extreme situations have shown to be able to take decisions on their own, like when the Cancer Cloth, faithful to Athena left his owner Deathmask because it considered him too wicked to be a Saint. They can also respond to the will of their previous owners.
Cloths were created during the Myth Age by the Alchemists of the Mu Continent to counter the power of Poseidon's Marine shogun, who were impossible to defeat by the unarmed followers of Athena. The descendants of those Alchemists, the Jamir tribe, remain the only people who know the secret art of repairing Cloths or bringing them back to life. Cloths have their own regenerative abilities, but a Cloth that is heavily damaged or destroyed could actually "die" and become
useless. The only way to revive these dead cloths is with a great amount of a Saint's blood. The blood given doesn't have to be an actual Saint's. It can be an individual who has the equivalent strength of a Saint. For example, Yuzuriha used her blood to repair Unicorn Yato's cloth because her strength was equivalent to that of a Silver Saint.
The other elements Cloths are made include: Gamanium, Stardust Sand and Orihalcon, an almost undestructible metal that is also the base component of the Scales. Cloths are kept hidden in wild places until a destined Saints receives them from their masters who are often the previous owners of the Cloths.
There is a place in Jamir called "Cloths Graveyard" where many dead Cloths are left unused. It's said that they are a remnants of a previous Holy War but very little is known. Cloths are kept inside a special box called Pandora's Boxes, referring to the fact that it can bring both hope or despair, according to how it's used, because all Cloths are in the end are weapons.
Cloths may also at times, exceed their own limits in terms of protection and power. Depending on whose blood is used to repair the cloth, the cloth may change shape and gain enhanced power. For example, after the battle of Sanctuary, Seiya, Shun, Shiryu, Ikki and Hyoga's cloths were destroyed and unwearable. Through the blood of the remaining gold saints, they were repaired and improved. If the bronze saint were able to raise their Cosmos to the level of a gold saint (7th sense), the cloth would actually glow gold and attain the same strength as a gold cloth. In the Hades arc, the bronze cloths were repaired again, with Athena's blood. Enhancing the cloths to their highest potential. If the bronze saint was able to reach their 8th sense, their cloths become God Cloths but only for a limited time.
To repair Cloths a Saint needs some special tools related to the Sculptor Bronze Cloth, whose Saint is specialized in repairs. Although the owner of those tools and the respective Cloth during 20th Century is Aries Mu, the only one left able to repair a Cloth, an art he is teaching to his apprentice Kiki. Previous clothsmiths include Aries Shion and Altar Hakurei.