Crafting Textiles and Fashion in a Globalised Industry

Craft, Handloom, Art, Cultural, Creative Industries, Fashion, Livelihoods

Crafting Textiles and Fashion in a Globalised Industry

Black, Sandy

Issue #002, Winter, 2019                                                                            ISSN: 2581- 9410 Introduction The creation of textiles from animal, plant and man-made fibres through technologies of spinning, weaving, felting and knitting is fundamental to clothing, whether worn for utilitarian or more aesthetic purposes.  The embellishment of basic cloth through dyeing, printing, beading and embroidery is a cornerstone of fashion, creating uniquely visual and tactile products for a clothing industry that has moved in the last century from handmade to machine manufactured, from elite to mass market, and from high value to disposable goods.  Fashion has become a global industry, and clothes are now well travelled items with very brief lives. Perhaps surprisingly for such a fast-moving sector, fashion remains one of the last craft-based industries, that still relies for its mass production on skilled individual workers operating manually-controlled machinery. Whilst textile production is highly automated in industrialised countries, hand weaving and embroidery of cloth, and craft-based production of fashion accessories (bags, scarves, belts, jewellery, etc) is still significant in many countries in the global south, particularly for women, who form the majority of the workforce. However, the recent acceleration of fashion cycles has created more demand for cheaper products, which is incompatible with the labour intensive reality of much of the fashion manufacturing process where people at the lowest level in the value chain ultimately suffer through increased pressures to meet shorter lead times. In the face of major industrialization stimulated by a contemporary global fashion industry, what is the place of handcrafted products and how can their heritage and the livelihoods of artisans be sustained?         As a reaction to the increasi...


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