Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Textiles in Trade: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America Biennial Symposium, September 14–16, 1990, Washington, DC


Copyright © 1990 by the author(s).


A large portion of textiles designed for the United States are no longer being made in this country. Instead they are manufactured in Europe, the Pacific Rim, including Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, the Philippines, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.

The initial design source of these textiles may still be the United States, but even this in light of my current research is ambiguous. I intend to show several textiles which though made for the U.S. market were not manufactured in this country. Their provenance is based upon interviews conducted with the textiles' designers, the country of origin labels attached to many of the textiles and the Design Laboratory's textile collection which was the initial source for their designs and in whose collection these now reside.

Changes in the designing and manufacturing of textiles in the U.S. over the past 15 years can be linked to economic, social and political conditions. In broad terms these include United States protectionist policies—tariffs, quotas, government subsidies and legislation,1 a strong or weak dollar relative to foreign currencies, a resistance by American mills to change in the form of new technology and design experimentation, and an isolationist view by these companies toward the rest of the textile producing world.

In addition the many international textile fairs that have proliferated in the post-war period in France, Germany, Italy, England, the United States, and most recently in Hong Kong, exhibiting textiles mainly from Europe have become for American companies and their designers an important setting in which to examine what has been newly introduced and which can be reinterpreted for the American market. In addition textile forecast services and trade periodicals have chronicled the importance of the trade fairs and European textiles.

The accessibility of Europe and the economic cost effectiveness of manufacturing in the Orient, Europe and the Caribbean has changed the way textiles are designed and manufactured for the American market.