University of Rhode Island  

Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

TMD 402H - Globalization in the Textile and Apparel Complex

About Globalization

The textile and apparel complex became increasingly global as the twentieth century drew to a close, and the twenty-first century promises more of the same. Garments are often made in countries unheard of by many Americans. The U.S. consumes 20% of world fiber production, yet it constitutes only about 5% of its population. Many issues are involved in globalization, a few of which are discussed here. 

Globalization in business is in the news in some form or another on a daily basis. Information about the textile industry, U.S. and European imports, market quotas, and tariffs of different countries around the world makes headlines. Breaking news from Textile World, a leading industry publication, is on the web.   Out There News reports news from a different view. The voices of ordinary people affected by events from around the world are heard in their news reports, offering an alternative to world news.

Manufacturing in the U.S. is costly because of high wages and environmental regulations.  However, poor working conditions and minimal wages for labor in other countries have alarmed many Americans. Those concerned have recommended business ethics for the textile, clothing, and footwear industries, going so far as to list stores and brand names that participate in the “No Sweat” campaign, which takes a stand about the harsh conditions and unsafe use of sweatshops. 

Students have strong views on foreign sweatshops. Some have joined a Workers Rights Consortium, through which visits to foreign factories revealed harsh and unsafe working conditions.  Students boycott the brands made in these sweatshops, and workers at these companies have been on strike.  CorpWatch works towards democratic control over corporations by building grassroots globalization.  This is a diverse movement for human rights, labor rights, and environmental justice.  The International Forum on Globalization advocates equitable, democratic, and ecologically sustainable economics.  Public Citizen is a national non-profit public interest organization founded by Ralph Nader to represent consumer interests in Congress.  The Global Trade Watch may be the most relevant part of this organization, as it offers education to the public about the impact of international trade and economic globalization as well as information about how to take action and express one’s beliefs on issues. 

Since the events of September 11th, terrorism and its effects on the economy have been on the minds of many Americans.  Many Americans have opposing opinions about terrorism. Descriptive and accurate information and statistics help one base his or her own opinion, which is helpful when researching current issues in the media that are greatly affecting textile trade.

On the positive side, globalization has helped the textile and apparel industry, particularly in developing countries. Employment has risen in developing countries and impacted local economies.  Technology has made advancements in the textile and apparel industry, and has advanced the spread of globalization and sourcing with foreign countries.

When Americans donate clothing to the local thrift shop, some of them may end up in Africa, as textiles and apparel are considered “big business.”  Recycling on a global scale is a topic to consider. Detailed market analysis of the U.S. textile industry, the North American textile industry as a whole, and the textile industry in other areas of the world. 

The rules and regulations of textile trade can be found in various sites on the web.   European Union Textile Trade offers information pertaining to the rules of the textile trading industry in European countries.  The European Union details the rules they have implemented from the World Trade Organization.  The American Textile Manufacturers Institute site provides information on the rules and regulations of trading in different countries.  Economic and textile crisis information is available in great depth, as well.  Finally, an in-depth look at the trading relationship between two very powerful and high-trade countries, China and the U.S., makes it possible to view the exact rules and processes of the trading of textiles.

Evaluation of web sites to which this page is linked by Donna Duschene, Stephanie Magna, Sarah Pratt, and Meredith Russo.



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