The Textile Industry – Part I

The industrial revolution brought to the fore revolutionary innovations in the field of clothing production, manufacturing and design. The introduction of new wheels looms and spinning processes helped the industry flex its manufacturing muscles and scale newer heights.

‘Rag trade’ as it is generally referred to UK and the Australian markets, the textile industry per se includes manufacturing, trade and distribution of textiles.

The industry since its inception has passed through several stages. From a domestic small-scale industry today it has acquired the status of supremacy. The cottage-stage was the first stage and textiles were produced at the micro level. Textiles during this period were made from wool, flax and cotton. The final material delivered depended on the location where the cloth was manufactured, and the time they were being made.

In the medieval period especially in the northern parts of Europe, cotton was looked upon as an imported fiber. During the 16th century cotton was principally grown in warmer climatic regions of America and Asia. The roman rule witnessed a significant switch as cotton was replaced with wool, leather, and linen for making cloth in Europe, while flax was mainly used in the northern parts of Europe.

The industrial revolution saw new machines such as spinning wheels and handlooms being used in big way. Manufacturing of cloth slowly graduated into an organized industry as opposed to the domesticated activity it had been earlier being linked with. A slew of innovations prompted industrialization of the textile industry in Great Britain.

Clothes manufactured during the industrial revolution comprised a major part of the exports made by Great Britain. They consisted of almost 25% of the total exports and doubled during the period between 1701 and 1770.

In times of industrial revolution a lot of emphasis was put on the pace of the production through inventions such as flying shuttle in 1773, the flyer and bobbin system and the roller spinning machine by John Wyatt and Lewis Paul in 1738.

Lewis Paul introduced the first carding machine in 1748 and in 1764 the spinning jenny was also invented. The water frame was invented in 1771 by Richard Arkwright. The power loom was invented in 1784 by Edmund Cartwright.

Once upon a time, textile mills were set up near rivers as they were run by water wheels. Once the steam engine was invented, the dependence on rivers reduced greatly. In the later stages of the 20th century, shuttles were introduced and thus production became more efficient.

At present, modern technologies have led to a competitive, low-priced textile industry offering almost any sort of cloth or design a person aspires for. With its low cost labour force today China has carved a niche for itself in the global textile industry.