What is the Apparel and Textile Industry? How do the various segments of the Industry work together to produce and sell apparel and textile products?
As an overview, the Industry is made-up of:
- those who produce the raw materials used in fabrics, the fiber producers;
- those who make the fabric - knitting mills and weavers;
- those who dye and finish the fabric - dyers and finishers;
- those who design the garments or products - designers;
- those who cut and sew the fabric - contractors;
- those who manufacturer the finished products - manufacturers; and,
- those who sell the products - retailers.
Fiber is the most fundamental unit used to make fabric. There are both natural fibers, such as cotton, wool and linen, and manufacturered fibers, such as polyester, nylon and acrylic. In our Technical Services you can learn about the various textile fibers, their charactetristics and end uses.
Through research and experimentation, fiber producers have been able to modify the basic composition of each generic fiber, using both chemical and physical process, to change and improve its characteristics and perfromance. Such modified fibers are trademarked. You can learn about how manufactured fibers are made and can also find a list of trademarked fibers.
Most fiber prducers in the Unitied States are located in the Southeast part of the country.
A Yarn Spinner takes the fibers from the Fiber Producer and spins (twists) them together to make yarn. During the spinning process, more than one type of fiber can be blended together (i.e. polyester/cotton) to create a blended yarn. Learn more about yarn spinning
Blending of different fibers is done to enhance the performance and improve the aesthetic qualities of the fabric constructed with the yarn. Fibers are selected and blended in certain proportions so the fabric will retain the best characteristics of each fiber. Blending can be done with using natural or manufactured fibers, in a variety of combinations and percentages. Learn more about Blending.
Most yarn spinners in the Unitied States are located in the East and Southeast part of the country.
The Knitter takes the yarn from the Yarn Spinner and knits fabric. The knitting is done on knitting machines that form the fabric by interlocking the yarn in a series of loops. Todays modern machines are computerized and can be programed to perform complicated patterns and designs. The three general classes of knit fabrics are: circular knit, flat knit and warp knit.
One or more types of yarn can be used to knit fabric. Different colored yarns can also be used to create designs and patterns.
The largest number of knitting mills in the Unitied States are located in southern California. In fact, Southern California is the largest knitting center in the world.
The Weaver takes the yarn and uses it to weave fabric. The weaving is done on weaving machines that form the fabric by interlacing the yarn so they cross each other at right angles. The three basic types of weaves are: plain weave, twill weave and the satin weave. All other weaves, including the most intricate, use one ore more of these basic patterns.
In the United States, most weavers are located in the East, Southeast and South.
DYERS & FINISHERS
A dyer is a company that dyes the fiber, yarn, or fabric, or parts of it, by immersion into a bath of colored dye. The dyeing process can also include treatment of the fabric to accept the dye.
Finishing refers to treatments done to improve the fabric´s appearance or performance. Finishing can provide colorfastness, durable press, shrinkage control, soil release, wash and wear finishes, etc.
A Designer is person or a company that develops a design for apparel, home furnishing or other textile product. Designers use color, form, and pattern; showing plan or forethought and the use of sketches to present the idea. Within the textile/apparel industry, there are textile designers, fashion designers, and interior designers.
A contractor is a person or company that contracts to perform work for a certain price. Within the textile industry, the contractor is usually a company that takes the fabric made by a knitting or weaving mill and performs the cutting and/or sewing work associated with the production of apparel, home furnishings or textile products.
A Manufacturer is a company that makes finished textile products, including apparel, home furnishings and industrial/medical products. Manufacturers that also make (and dye/finish) the fabric are referred to as having a vertical operation.
A Retailer owns the store where the apparel or textile products are sold. The retailer buys the products from manufacturers, displays (merchandizes) the products,and sells the products to its customers.