New Technologies Invigorate the Textiles Industry

Textiles: New Technologies and Business Models Reinvigorate an Ancient Industry

The interest in keeping traditional methods and materials alive, combined with a changing market that values unique, individual, and hand-made textiles has lead to a resurgence in the market for indigenous, traditional, culture-specific textiles; internet-based cooperatives and e-commerce platforms such as ClothRoads brings these unique handmade textiles into the global marketplace.

With a focus on self-sufficiency for artisan families and communities, and safe practices and sustainability for methods and materials that have been toxic in the past, these new cooperatives are using NGO development programs to revitalize a dying industry.

Open-source and desktop design software combine with new printing technologies and crowdsourcing in Spoonflower’s successful model. Custom print-on-demand technology on silks and cotton fabrics, no minimum orders and small  batch runs, and eco-friendly inks combine with a unique crowdsourcing platform: designers can upload their fabric designs for sale on the site.

With a focus on sustainability and low environmental impact, Papilio Prints is a printer specializing in large-format textile printing with local American-made fabrics, organic fibers, and certified low environmental impact inks. Designers and small manufacturers can upload their designs using desktop tools, and small runs are a specialty. A member of Maker’s Row and an Etsy Manufacturing partner, Papilio is opening a manufacturing avenue for the small, independent, American-based maker and textile designer.

Kiva is a microfinance lender that is bringing the crowdsourcing model to microfinance, letting individuals revitalize their industry business by business. Women working in the textile industry, designing traditional clothes, weaving, working as seamstresses, spinning, and shepherding fiber animals are growing their businesses through a successful microfinance loan model that is funded through crowdsourcing.

Combining new manufacturing and information technologies with crowdsourcing is bringing the oldest, most traditional textile work into a new global marketplace