Stages of textile product life cycle:
Personally summary of cycle prior to research:
- Agriculture/raw fibre production – I think this stage involves the initial planting of a crop, e.g. cotton, the cultivating of it, various agricultural practices (use of pesticides, water, soil enhancers,). I think within this stage is also the harvesting or separating of the fibre from the plant e.g. picking cotton from fields. I’m not sure if this stage involves cleaning of the cotton etc and therefore heavy use of water/chemicals and human labour.
- Ginning – I don’t know what this is!
- Spinning – the process of drawing out the fibres of the cotton into a single strand or thread, ready for use in the weaving stage. This can be done by hand, as a labour intensive method, I’m not sure if there’s machinery that can do this part too?
- Weaving – This involves taking the single thread produced in the previous stage and laying multiple strands in and out of each other to form a woven piece of cloth or fabric. There are hand based looms which allow someone to run a shuttle in and out of the threads to from a woven piece of CAD looms which can be programmed to produce a certain pattern or effect when weaving.
- Processing – Not entirely sure what this stage is – as a guess I’d say it’s perhaps the point of cutting garments into pattern pieces for stitching, maybe the dying stage too? Could also include any additional quality or safety checks to the fabric?
- Stitching – Using sewing machines, or hand skills to bring pattern pieces together by a stitched thread. This is often broken down (on a factory level), to component parts, with an individual person only responsible for stitching one part of the garment, the next part would be completed by someone else and so on.
- Distribution/retail – This stage involves, sending the finished garment or textile to a buyer. The buyer then repackaging the garment to their desired look, sending on to shops/store fronts. Setting a price for the consumer, deciding how to market and advertise the product – photography, social media, etc. Also includes deciding how to display item to customers in store, or catalogues, or online.
- Use/Consumption and end of life – Garment or textile reaches user, the product has a life cycle or use cycle with initial owner, may then have several alternative secondary placements. Some fabrics or garments, gain a second life through resale, charity shops, swapping events. Others end up as waste – for landfill, this is a lengthy process of degrading. Some products may be re-invented or ‘up-cycled’ into new garments or products, gaining a new lease of life. Some fibres can even be broken down and merged with other fibres to make clothing from post consumer waste.