Indian textile industry: past, present and the future

Indian textile industry: past, present and the future

Diverse textiles, rich cultural heritage. This line sums up Indian textiles. At present, our textile industry is estimated at $16 billion, approximately 6% of the global market. India is among the top 5 apparel and textile exporting countries in the world. Was our textile sector always this successful, or were there any inventions or effective strategies that catapulted our country to the top 5? 

Our country’s connection with the textile sector dates back centuries. Every state in India has some unique textiles to offer. For instance, if the hand-painted cotton textile, Kalamkari is native to Andhra Pradesh, Ilkal sarees are Karnataka’s indigenous textile. While Odisha is home to Sambalpuri fabric, Phulakri’s are the pride of Punjab’s culture. The vibrant, world-renowned Indian textiles have captivated several fabric connoisseurs and are highly valued globally. In human history, the importance of textiles cannot be sidelined, as they have changed social scenarios.  Here is a brief feature on the Indian textile industry.

Our Textile Legacy 

Evidence that inhabitants in the Harappan civilization were deft at spinning and weaving has been uncovered. William Lee created the stocking frame, the first hand-operated weft knitting machine, The textile evolution took a stride forward during the mediaeval age with  William Lee’s creation, the stocking frame. It was the first hand-operated weft knitting machine.

It was in the early nineteenth century that the textile industry started to gain momentum. This era saw the establishment of the first textile mill at fort Gloster, Kolkata in 1818 and in 1854 a cotton textile mill in Bombay. In 1861, the textile industry expanded its horizons to include Ahmedabad. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the cotton textile industry saw rapid progress.

Textile weaving

The real technology-enabled revolution started to unfold in the industrial age. One such machine that was a game changer in the textile industry was the water frame, invented by the doyen of the textile segment, Sir Richard Arkwright. This invention facilitated faster spinning of cotton yarn. In addition to cotton, Indian silks were exported along the Silk Road in China and later on to western nations, making them another significant export of the ancient Indian textile industry. The British Empire colonised India for various reasons, but one of the main ones was the country’s cheap, high-quality cotton. 

Swaraj Movement & Its Profound Impact

The Indian textile industry has been ever-growing and is immensely influenced by tradition and aesthetics. A great stimulus for the Indian textile and cotton industries stemmed from the two world wars and the Swadeshi movement in India. Indian handlooms, spinning, and weaving techniques have been celebrated for centuries. Also, it has gradually and steadily created a niche for itself in home textile products in domestic and international markets.

During the Swaraj movement, Mahatma Gandhi encouraged people to use a spinning wheel, to make their own cloth. Khadi became a symbol of independence and self-sufficiency. As the Swaraj movement gained traction, the British Empire lost its hold on the textile industry This remarkable event changed the entire course of our Indian textiles, leading to a complete reorganisation of the industry.

Inventions that changed the contour of  the textile industry

  • Flying shuttle, enabled weavers to weave faster
  • Spinning jenny facilitated faster spinning of yarn 
  • Spinning mule increased the production of spindles
  • Cotton ginning machine, automated the separation of cottonseed from cotton fibre
  • Jacquard loom, automated controlling the warp and weft threads to weave complex designs

Textile to Techxtile for rapid growth

Tech-enabled solutions will empower us to become the world’s new textile and apparel production hub. Solutions that are scalable and also ecologically viable are imperative for the Indian textile industry. Changes in supply chain management, innovative fibres, smart farming to amplify natural fibre farming, and recycled yarn productions are some of the aspects that will help us build core competencies to become the global leader of the textile industry.

  • Embracing 3D technology

The adoption of 3D technology will make product creation more straightforward than ever. 3D rendering will assist in figuring out the ideal fit for costumes.

  • Blockchain for effective execution

Blockchain will have a profound impact on the way the textile industry interacts and executes transactions. Apart from bringing transparency to the transactions, blockchain will assist in tracking pertinent data points that will benefit stakeholders in the textile supply chain. 

  •  High-quality fabrics

While we work towards capturing a major share in the global textile market, means and methods to ensure the production and use of premium natural fabrics are vital. 

  •  Optimisation through digitization

 By bringing accurate data and processes together under one unified platform, the textile supply chain can be digitised thus paving the way to produce and craft more products

ReshaMandi is establishing a natural fibre supply chain in India

India is a powerhouse of natural fibres. A massive shift, in preferences for natural fibres and natural fabrics, has created an immense opportunity for our country. Since the beginning of time, we have worn clothing made from natural fibres.

ReshaMandi, as India’s first and largest farm-to-retail digital ecosystem for the natural fibre supply chain, is redefining the way the natural fibre sector functions. By understanding the needs of textile MSMEs and resolving the issues affecting them through tech-enabled solutions, ReshaMandi is creating a value-added supply chain. It connects the stakeholders of the textile industry’s natural fibre supply chain—raw material producers, yarn manufacturers, fabric manufacturers, and retailers—via its ReshaMandi app. By pioneering smart farming techniques, ReshaMandi is empowering natural fibre farmers and amplifying natural fibre production. It is helping manufacturers access scientifically graded raw materials for the best product output and also providing the best market linkages. Apart from benefiting the stakeholders, ReshaMandi is making new innovative fabrics, and recycled yarns accessible to create a textile value chain that will efficiently cater to the growing demand of the apparel market, i.e., become the backbone of the global natural fibre supply chain.

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