We explain what is the textile industry, its history and the sectors that compose it. In addition, its development in Mexico and the world.
What is the textile industry?
The textile industry is the sector of the manufacturing industry dedicated to the production of fibers (natural and synthetic), fabrics, yarns and other products related to clothing and clothing. It usually includes the manufacture of clothing, clothing and even shoes, and its work is carried out in textile factories or maquilas.
The textile industry is one of the most important economic activities in the world . Therefore, it provides work for huge sectors of the population in each country, since their products are usually marketed at a constant and massive pace.
At the same time, it is a source of enormous controversy, given that its use of light machinery allows a constant geographical relocation, which sometimes translates into unworthy labor and salary conditions.
On the other hand, we talk about textile sectors to refer to the different components or stations of textile production, which directly make up the industry . Such as:
- Fiber production . Obtaining by natural or artificial means the raw material to produce textile products.
- Hilandería . Stage of treatment of the fibers and obtaining of the basic threads for the manufacture of the fabrics.
- Weaving . Fabric manufacturing process by weaving the fiber threads.
- Cleaning . Stage in which the fabrics are dyed and the final finishing of them is carried out.
- Dressmaking and sewing . Sector in which the pieces of each garment are designed, cut and sewn, from finished fabrics. It is divided into high and low seam.
- Nonwovens . Sector of handling non-textile elements or fabric manufacturing without requiring threads and fibers.
History of the textile industry
The textile industry, traditionally, was a female labor camp that took place in the homes themselves and whose production was, at best, artisanal. The fabrics thus produced were then referred to a tailor or seamstress, responsible for manufacturing the pieces of clothing tailored to the wealthy client, or for making regular pieces intended for vulgar use.
The growth of the population and the economy during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution led to the installation of workshops (looms) in which fabrics could be produced constantly, still employing manual labor and a large number of textile workers.
These conditions changed radically when in the 18th century and especially the 19th century, the first industrial technological devices emerged , aimed at streamlining and massifying textile production. These tools modernized the textile industry and allowed the massive manufacture of fabrics, although at the cost of reducing the number of workers .
There were reactions against the arrival of this technology , such as the violent Luddite demonstrations, but the advantages of the new mechanized industry were undeniable and eventually prevailed to this day.
In fact, the textile industry was the first of the industries to develop , when in 1733 John Kay’s first flying shuttle emerged. Already in 1800 there were only about 350,000 textile workers in Britain, divided between yarns and fabrics. At the beginning of the 19th century, 40% of this nation’s exports consisted of textiles.
The modern textile industry has important mechanical and even automated artifacts, which carry out production in a constant, continuous and massive way. Among them are:
- Openers and processors . These are different machines that serve to open the bales of cotton or other natural or synthetic raw materials, shredding them and separating the useful material from the impurities. They often lead to a “softener”, which is a kind of press equipped with rotating rollers, which crush and soften the fibers, especially rigid materials such as hemp; and various water extractors to avoid subsequent complications with the fiber.
- Spinners . These are machines that receive the processed and ready-to-use fibers, and proceed to make a thread with them. This process is currently taking place in a highly automated way, but in the beginning the first spinning machines were devices equipped with bobbins and eight reels of fiber, known as Jenny spinning machines (and invented in 1770 by James Hargreaves).
- Loom . Modern version of the artifact formerly invented by textile artisans, the loom is a weaving machine, that is, transforming threads into fabrics. To do this, it intertwines two sets of threads: the warp and the weft, generally by means of a drum that allows the cross-linking of the threads following a certain set of guides, to the rhythm of the movement of a comb, whose sway pushes the thread, forming the weft. The result of this operation, nowadays carried out by automated machines, is a piece of cloth of great proportions.
Countries with strong textile industry
The textile industry is very robust in countries such as China, the largest textile producer in the world and the main exporter of finished fabrics and garments.
The United States, India, and since 2010, Morocco, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and South Korea, as well as Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia, to a lesser extent are also very developed.
Textile industry in Mexico
In the case of Mexico, the textile industry represents a significant portion of its GDP . Traditionally occupied by women, this sector developed continuously and deregulated until 2009, the year it entered into crisis, and was characterized by low wages, minimum labor demands and no environmental protection.
However, thanks to this booming industry, Mexico is among the world’s textile powers , especially in the synthetic fiber sector, of which it is the fifth largest supplier worldwide, exporting 4,695 million dollars annually.