Textile Industry

TradeRiver has identified the Textile industry among a number of high growth industries where innovation and disruption are either happening or in desperate need of occurrence. Here’s a quick dive into all of the things we’ve highlighted about the Textile industry.


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  • Global Carbon Budget

    The report, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, identifies the textile industry’s current take-make-dispose model as the root cause of its environmental problems and economic value loss. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. An estimated USD 500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing being barely worn and rarely recycled. If nothing changes, by 2050 the textile industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. Textile companies and retail brands are rethinking the global textiles system and have banded together to redesign the future of fashion by producing better outcomes.

  • Secondhand

    Traditional retailers are starting to embrace secondhand. The resale customer is no longer somebody else’s customer, they are everybody’s customer. Mass market or luxury, if people can find a high-quality product for much less, they’ll choose used. As the line between new and used apparel blurs for consumers, a powerful transformation in retail will unfold.

  • London Fashion Week

    Sustainable fashion brands dominated LFW. The British Fashion Council Positive Fashion initiative celebrates designers who are adhering to Positive Fashion principles within their businesses and in turn, are promoting and contributing to positive change within the industry. The British Fashion Council’s London Fashion Week saw many designers bring sustainability to the forefront of their collections, championing an eco-conscious mindset.

  • Production

    Clothing represents more than 60% of the total textiles used and is expected to remain the largest application. In the last 15 years, clothing production has approximately doubled driven by a growing middle-class population across the globe and increased per capita sales in mature economies. The latter rise is mainly due to the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon, with a quicker turnaround of new styles, increased number of collections offered per year, and lower prices. The current clothing system is extremely wasteful and polluting.


    Brands and retailers have started to address specific environmental or societal challenges within their supply chains and begun sharing a vision for a new textiles economy aligned with the principles of a circular economy; one that is restorative and regenerative by design and provides benefits for business, society, and the environment.

  • Localised 

    Manufacturers, brands, retailers, and other businesses must innovate faster than ever to attract customers and build relationships. Consumer demand for convenience and immediacy is prompting retailers to complement existing brick-and-mortar networks with smaller format stores that meet customers wherever they are and reduce friction in the customer journey. The winning formula will feature in-store experiences and localised assortment in neighbourhoods and suburbs beyond the main shopping thoroughfares.

  • Resale

    While the circular economy is taking the main stage of the textile and fashion industries, the resale and e-commerce market is all of the rage. Expected to double in size by 2023, the resale market is disrupting traditional models as early adopters begin exploring resale possibilities.


    Traditional retailers and newcomers are embracing secondhand as consumer trends drive secondhand growth. As consumer attitudes towards sustainability and ownership change, consumers expect ethical fashion and prioritize renewable initiatives. The secondhand market is projected to grow to nearly 1.5x the size of fast fashion by 2028.

  • Automation

    The digitization of supply chains has reinforced the need for transparency. Companies are adding automation technology to introduce efficiency to operations. Automation reduces pollution and requires less transportation. Additionally, it eliminates concern regarding labor conditions in offshore manufacturing facilities. 

    One of the most common pieces of machinery that automation is disrupting is the sewing machine. Manufacturing floors are familiarizing themselves with sewing bots or 'sewbots'. A global initiative, Fashion for Good, forecasts that Softwear Automation’s sewbots can reduce emissions by 10%.

  • Linear to Circular

    The fashion and textile industry is shifting from a linear model to a circular model. In an effort to reduce textile waste, the take-make-waste economy is pivoting and setting their eyes on a restorative initiative designed to keep materials and products in the use cycle for as long as possible and regenerates the environment. 

    Brands are innovating beyond traditional clothing wear and usage by rethinking recycling habits. Creating a circular economy requires a transformation of the traditional supply chain in order to take back products as opposed to discarding them. Companies are strategizing incentive programs to entice customers to participate. 

  • Natural Resources

    If current industry practices continue, the textile and fashion sector is on track to consume a quarter of the world's carbon budget by 2050. But, contrastingly, rising awareness and eco-consciousness among consumers has driven the demand for sustainable products. The fashion world is taking steps to lessen the negative impact on the environment.

    The textile industry is experimenting with alternative textiles to reduce waste and pollution. By using less natural resources, brands are turning to agriculture waste products as an alternative source. 

  • FashionTech IPO

    Today, tech is transforming fashion at a faster pace than ever. Data collection efforts are growing more sophisticated. AI is forecasted to reshape brands’ approach to product design and development, with a focus on predicting what customers will want to wear next. 

    Despite the spike in fashion-tech IPOs, investor apprehension has grown regarding the profitability. Fashion tech companies have come out of the gate raking in funding and found themselves struggling to turn a profit. Investors look for signs of real profitability potential.

  • No More Fashion Seasons

    Fast fashion has eliminated the traditional seasonal model. Today, fast fashion brands may issue as many as 52 weekly “micro-seasons” per year. While fast fashion brands have introduced instant gratification to consumers, traditional apparel brands are responding to the threat by now debuting 11 seasons a year.

    Cheap alternatives to high-fashion items remain hot consumer commodities and this is driven largely by social media. On another note, brands in fast fashion are notorious for their manufacture of low-cost, low-quality apparel in factories with questionable working conditions, relying on workers who receive low pay.

  • Printing Garments

    The fashion industry is a hotbed for innovation. History shows how innovations have shaped the industry's evolution from the sewing machine to the e-commerce revolution. While the 2020 outlook poses an uncertain landscape, brands are tackling problems one at a time to remain agile in the face of ambiguity. 

    While sustainability has proven to be a hot button topic and it has topped the list of the biggest challenges facing the industry, brands have adopted 3D printing technology. Garment printing has proven to cut fabric waste in production by 35%. 

  • Textile Outlook

    The issues of the world have a direct impact on the global economy. What does this mean for textiles? Industry leaders are proceeding with caution and prepping their bottom lines to combat the forecasted risk and uncertainty in the textile industry. 

    The fall in the value of the pound following the UK's vote to leave the EU is expected to make imports more expensive and in turn increase purchase costs, thus hampering industry profit margins. Brexit, Extended Producer Responsibility and increased sector scrutiny are some of the factors that may be shaping the future for the textile sector.

  • SME Domination

    The European textile and clothing industry is dominated by SME business. Textile and clothing are one of the most globalized industries. The chain of production, both retail and wholesale, for one product alone involves a surplus of participating stakeholders and continents.

    Europe is home to leading retail brands, internationally acclaimed designers, and emerging, forward-thinking designers. Brands are innovating beyond the prestigious Made in Europe label and perfecting their quality and craftsmanship to match changing consumer shopping behavior to transcend the test of time.

  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

    The textile industry is notorious for its large carbon footprint. The average piece of clothing has a lifespan of 3.3 years; however, we often see consumers participating in one-time wear ensembles. 

    Textile production is dominated mainly by cotton and polyester. New alternative players, including recycled fibres, have the potential to help the industry meet future demand for clothing responsibility. This would minimise environmental impacts. New renewable fashion initiatives are taking priority in an effort to introduce new ways to value clothing without harming the environment. 

  • UK Clothing Spend

    British people are becoming increasingly exposed and environmentally aware; however, consumers continue to buy and throw away clothes at an increasing annual rate. Also, clothing consumption has seen higher conversions in tandem with the part decades boom in the affordable fast fashion industry. The amount of clothing in residual waste and ending up in landfill or incineration has increased by 10 per cent since 2015. 

    The new year is pushing for a dramatic shift in consumer behavior that will have a positive impact on the environment and the industry's carbon footprint. Textile and fashion are working to make real progress in making their industry more sustainable. 


  • Brexit Slowdown

    The UK's decision to withdraw from the European Union has resulted in significant uncertainty regarding the consumer market and consumer behavior. This has caused consumer confidence to decline and thus, more cautious in spending habits as disposable incomes are more constrained. 

    This is anticipated to have a negative impact on the performance of the industry. Demand from downstream industries is expected to have declined due to weaker consumer demand for textiles and textile products.

  • Online Consumer Demand

    Today's consumers are used to getting what they want when they want it. It's up to brands to understand what drives consumer demand in order to feed their large appetites. 

    Convenience and acceleration are the key driving factors that are prompting retailers and brands to meet their shoppers online and reduce any existing friction in the consumer's journey. 

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