Our history: American textiles move to the southeast
Large-scale commercial textile manufacturing began in America in the late 1700s. First in the US northeast, but by the early 1800s textile mills started moving south to the Carolinas, and by 1900 the industry was growing quickly in the southeast. In the mid-1900s North Carolina became recognized as the center of US textile manufacturing. Over the next 50 years, textiles were a huge economic driver, but the domestic industry was marked by labor unrest. Despite the challenges, the industry became ingrained in local communities and the very essence of the people.
Changes to the industry: offshoring and closures
Throughout the 1980s and 90s the industry underwent many changes. There was stiff price competition from low-cost labor overseas, and with cheaper economy of transportation large retailers could grow more quickly in size. As the industry shifted towards other countries and away from domestic production, hundreds of American textile companies closed their doors, mill towns stagnated, and thousands of hard-working Americans lost their jobs.
Textiles today: What is left
While numerous businesses shut down, some persevered by carving out a niche in the market, mechanizing and becoming more efficient with technology and fewer workers. The southeast, and much of America, still has a tremendous amount of infrastructure to support the textile industry and a wealth of textile skill and knowledge exists here. The domestic textile industry has been influenced by technology and advanced manufacturing methods to innovate new uses for textiles, new material and new product development unimagined anywhere else.
Current demand: US production and re-shoring
More recently, as the US economy dove into the Great Recession, two important changes occurred in the American textile industry. For one, US consumers shifted to support domestic production which creates an impact for us to rebuild our economy. Secondly, companies of all types focused attention to quicker cash-flow, shorter lead-times, and being responsive to consumer demands. We created The Textile District to help entrepreneurs, existing companies, and local economies to benefit from the solutions only an American supply chain can provide.
Creation of The Textile District
We formed The Textile District in 2013 as a network of textile manufacturers and related companies to connect clients with a one-stop-shop of resources, and to guide the process from ideas, to development, to production, to distribution. The companies in the network, the District Partners, grow and thrive together as we collaborate to meet the increasing demand for US textile production.
Our People, Our Partners, The Lifeblood
Our designers, producers, sewing machine operators and other skilled workers are our biggest asset. Our Partners, our colleagues, employees, and families are the core of a value chain that builds trusting, productive business relationships. District Partners work in collaboration, and often directly, with clients and each other, to make sure products get to market as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Strengthen textile firms to grow sustainable economies
The District brings everyone together to strengthen existing firms by helping them fill latent capacity and grow with today’s demand. We also utilize our rich history in manufacturing and current infrastructure to grow new companies that contribute to just and sustainable regional economies.
Change through education
We want to educate communities and schools on a fresh image of textile production. The District works to train textile leaders and workers in order to support the sector’s resurgence, and transfer our wealth of knowledge to the next generation of textile entrepreneurs.
Create jobs and local wealth
We want to ensure that new generations of textile workers are well-paid, valued as skilled professionals, trained in advanced technology, and have a quality of life that is marked by dignity and secure livelihoods. Our process of Client intake creates a regular flow of qualified opportunities for District Partners, so we can all focus on growing companies.
The future of The Textile District is promising. More companies are committing in part, or in whole, to US textile production, and more American consumers are demanding products that are made locally and in a way that supports a fair wage and a sustainable economy.