Most consumers are not aware of the segment of the textile industry known as industrial textiles, even though they encounter these products every day. Industrial textiles is the most commonly used name for textile applications in agriculture, air and water filtration, architecture, automobiles, banners and flags, casual furniture, environmental protection, earth stabilization, medical products, recreational products, and transportation vehicles. Apparel items in this category are those in which performance is paramount: clean room garments, protective gloves and clothing for industry and farming, industry garments that don’t develop electrostatic charges (World of Industrial Fabrics n.d.)
Other descriptive terms applied to this segment of the industry are industrial fabrics, technical textiles, engineered fabrics, and technical fabrics. Industrial textiles may be woven, knitted, or nonwoven, often of manufactured fibers. Fashion is not a factor in industrial textiles, but instead such functional characteristics as strength, stability, chemical resistance, and weight are likely to be important. Examples of industrial textiles range from small products such as filters and auto safety belts to enormous structures such as roofs, tents, and storage tanks. Roofs and other building structures encompass the field of textile architecture, a growing area of interest that combines engineering and art design. Consumers of industrial products include the construction, mining, sanitation, and transportation industries; medicine; and the military.
The industrial fabric segment of the textile field has grown rapidly in recent years. Some of the more dramatic examples of progress in textile technology have come in this area, particularly fiber-reinforced composites for the aerospace industry and geotextiles. Geotextiles are textiles used in soil and soil-based structures such as roads, dams, and erosion-control products.
The Major Textile Production Segments
The textile industry is segmented into three large groupings: Apparel, the textiles used in clothing; interior furnishings (also called home fashions) the textiles used in furniture, bath, kitchen and bed; and industrial, the textiles used in such items as luggage, flags, boat sails, gauze bandages, dust filters, and so on. The market is divided into approximately 40 percent apparel, 40 percent interior furnishings, and 20 percent industrial and miscellaneous consumer-type products.
The textile industry uses many different raw materials and many steps in the process of manufacturing a finished textile material. Each segment in the pipeline is not only involved with production, but also with buying the product of a previous producer. Thus, the entire process from fiber to consumer (or other ultimate buyer) involves the coordinated activities of many firms and many individuals within each firm. The following sections describe the major production segments, each of which is discussed in much more detail later in this book.
It takes almost a year from the time a fiber supplier starts delivering fibers for yarn manufacturing until the completed garment is ready for sale in the retail store. The fiber shipments stop about four months before the start of the retail season. The yarn manufacturers begin delivering their yarns to the mills about nine months before the garments are to be sold in the retail stores and stop about two months before. The finished fabrics start to be shipped to the garment manufacture about six moths before and continue to be sold into the retail-selling season.
Some apparel manufactures start cutting fabrics four months before the season and many continue to cut after the season has begun. There are two main retail-selling seasons for apparel. They are fall and spring. The former starts about August first and the latter begin about February first. The other seasons include summer and Holiday.