Textile Production and the Emerging Labour Market

A May 2017 research project reports that textile and clothing (T&C) workers are often among the first employees in emerging economies to earn steady income; the sustainability of the factories which employ these workers is mission-critical to lifting the entire economy and social development itself—T&C workers are primary consumers.

That compelling pieces of evidence is step one in rethinking the importance of bringing the global textile and clothing into the circular economy. But the clothing industry is enormously complex, employing fibre producers, yarn manufacturers, weavers, chemical processors, apparel industries, retailers, logistics and distributor partners, post-consumer actors, and service providers.

And “fast fashion” has telescoped the clothing and fashion life cycle—and amplified the demand for ever faster design and production turnarounds. Upshot? Global fibre consumption doubled between 1990 and 2010, inspiring all manner of dubious practices, including GMO’d cotton, fake organic fibres, terrible (not to say lethal) working conditions and unethical product sourcing and manufacturing.

A worldwide movement is gathering momentum, driving transparent sourcing solutions for the textile industry which meet social and ethical thresholds while fulfilling the industry’s role in generating economic sustainability.