Changes in Clothing manufacturing by Jasmine McGrath

Clothing manufacturing has undergone many charges since the first pieces of clothing were made. It is believed that humans started wearing clothing somewhere between 100,000 to 500,000 years ago as protection from the elements using animal skins and vegetation. A form of clothing was worn as protection from weather conditions and for comfort. Clothing may have been invented for other reasons such as magic, decoration, as membership of a cult or for prestige. Clothing has been homemade for most of human history it is still made at home today by a number of people who particularly enjoy creating there own clothing. The largest manufacturing industry in the world is actually the creation, production and the distributing of clothing.

Figure 1: The first forms of clothing

Up until 1813 all sewing and making of materials was done by hand until Francis C. Lowell invented the 'Power-loom'. The power-loom created cotton cloth of good quality but is was not enough and selling the power-loom was hard for Lowell. When it first came out there was no need for the mass production of clothing and was unsuccessful for 13 years. However the creation of the power-loom and many other machines lead to the Industrial Revolution as people used to make their own materials at home, but these machines lead to many factories opening to create large amounts of materials. During the time it took for the power-loom to be successful, textile manufacturers continued to use 'handloom outwork'. This was done by part-time weavers who were widows, single independent women, young adults and others who help with their families income. By 1820 60% of fabric manufacturers owned a Power-loom. In 1915, the clothing industry continued to develop as famous designers such as Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel started to introduce different materials to use for clothing such as wool and spun silk. The first working sewing machine was made in 1830, it was made by a French tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier who at the time used the sewing machine to manufacture uniforms because at the time there was a mass production for military uniforms.

Figure 2: The Power-loom

Clothing used to be made individually and was made just for the person who would wear it as walking into a store, picking out a piece of clothing in a particular size, buying it, and walking out of the store with it is a rather new concept, it is the same with online shopping. Clothing used to be made to last a long period of time and could be worn many times but now clothing is bought, worn a few times then thrown out because people follow fashion trends and the production of cheap clothing in country's where labour force is used are underpaid and make it possible for someone to extend their wardrobe.

In the 19th century some cotton factories had really dangerous working conditions, low pay and workers had no union protection against excessive work and danger. Many children were also employed as they were cheaper than adults and many children did not know their age and even though the birth certificate was introduced in 1836, no factory manager got in trouble for employing underage children.

The conditions were terrible that many adults and children would die because they were so bad. Child labour has not stopped since then in third world countries.

Many clothing companies manufacture their clothing in what is called 'Sweat shops'. Sweatshops are big factories that employ many people to work in terrible conditions, for long hours and low pay. These are very common in developing countries. Many well-known brands manufacture their clothing in sweatshops such as Nike, Adidas, Bonds, Just Jeans and many others.

In some of these factories they have been so unsafe that there have been cases of factories collapsing, fires starting workers have been exposed to toxic substances or used dangerous machinery without the right protection. Sweatshops have kept getting worse to keep up with demand for mass production of clothing.

Disadvantages of the Changes in Clothing manufacturing industry:

Sweat shop are still common in third world countries.

More waste.

Mass production of clothing.

The quality of the clothing as decreased.

Clothing isn't valued as much.

Advantages of the Changes in Clothing manufacturing industry:

More variety in clothing.

More jobs.

More technology.

Clothing is cheaper now.

No sweatshops in first world countries.

Easier to get clothing as there are many stores and online shops.


Created with images by jackmac34 - "couture sewing machine thimble"

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