(Exhibition text in English)
Today, textiles constitute the seventh most traded product in the world. The biggest exporter is China, followed by Vietnam and Bangladesh. The countries that import the most are the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.
India The largest exporter of textiles in the 18th century. Indian cotton – calico – was the height of fashion in Europe.
England The large-scale textile industry makes its breakthrough in England when the spinning machine ”Spinning Jenny” is invented in 1764. The English trade cotton fabric from India for slaves in Africa. The slaves are transported across the Atlantic to North America and are forced to work, many of them on cotton plantations. The cotton is shipped to England.
United States The combination of huge domestic demand, cheap labour and locally produced cotton made the United States a 19th-century superpower in textile production. In the 1970s, much of the production was transferred to the low-income country of Mexico.
Sweden The textile industry grew over the course of the 19th century, primarily in southwestern Sweden. However, industrial textile production did not outgrow home textile production until the 1870s. By the 1950s, Sweden had a textile self-sufficiency rate of around 85%. Between 1950 and 1968, employment levels in the industry decreased by about 60%. In spite of this, production volume reached an all-time high by the early 1970s.
Portugal The rise in free trade within Europe in the 1960s meant that large parts of the textile industry moved to Portugal. At the time, Portugal was a dictatorship with low salaries where trade unions were banned.
Türkiye In the 1980s, much of southern Europe’s textile industry moved to Türkiye. The salaries were low and the working conditions poor. Türkiye also benefitted from domestic cotton production.
Baltic states After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Baltic states became market economies. Labour was cheap and many of the remaining textile industries in Europe moved to Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania.
South Korea The development of free trade in the 1970s and 80s led to rapid modernisation in the country’s textile industry, much as a result of American investments.
China When the country opened up to the West in the early 1990s, textile industries moved their production to China, where salaries were low and production rates high.
Mexico The textile industry that had once left the United States in favour of Mexico in the 1970s gradually began moving on to China and Southeast Asia in the 2000s.
India/Bangladesh/Pakistan/Vietnam/Cambodia Rising salaries in China in the 2000s have compelled the textile industry to move to other countries in Asia with lower salary levels.
Ethiopia Large quantities of cotton are produced here, and the labour cost is approximately half as high as in Bangladesh. In the 2010s, huge efforts were made to attract investments from the global textile industry.