Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
The textile field, while not “local” in the geographic sense, is a community: a group of people with a shared language, history, and practices that date back thousands of years. As deeply-rooted as those materials and practices are, textiles is also an area that has historically experienced enormous disruptions due to changing technology and globalization. In the 21st century, we are undergoing something like a second Industrial Revolution. Advances in digital and robotic technologies and shifting labor markets are driving a revolution in where and how things are made. Global climate change, lack of food security for much of the world’s population, and concern about overwhelming quantities of waste and toxic pollution are altering our priorities for land and resource management. These challenges are bringing together the formerly opposed approaches of handcraft and high-tech, organic and artificial in new and unexpected ways. Venturing into the field of textiles today is taking a bold step into a constellation of disciplines that, on the surface, may not appear to have much in common with the history of cloth. But the future of textiles will rely on cross-collaborations in areas of science, medicine, engineering, technology, agriculture, waste management, and other specialties, as well as an understanding of the balance required for environmentally and economically sustainable textile production. The panel will discuss the changes that are taking place in the textile field and will present new and burgeoning areas in the textile industry including commercially viable smart textiles, non-petroleum synthesized fibers, waterless dyeing, alternative manufacturing strategies, and sustainable practices. It will celebrate positive disruptions and cross-disciplinary collaborations that will enlarge and enrich the textile community, and demonstrate once again the resiliency of its social fabric.