Clothing and Textiles in the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution is a movement that began in the 18th Century in England and rapidly spread throughout the rest of Europe and North America. The movement dealt with changes in technology that increased business and made the lives of citizens easier in the process. The Industrial Revolution affected all sectors of life, including the manufacturing of food, textiles and especially clothing. People's lifestyle changed as a result of the revolution, and the clothing industry has not been the same since.

Before the Industrial Revolution

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, much of society revolved around people creating their own clothes. They would hem and sew their own garments and provide repairs to any clothes that were ripped or torn. People owned just a few outfits to get by and would get a lot of use out of these few outfits. There was not much of a business model for clothing, because it took a long time to produce, and was a necessity that most people simply handled on their own.

At the Beginning of the Industrial Revolution

The Revolution started in earnest with textiles. A number of new inventions meant that labor was in demand. Since factories had brand new machines that wove and produced cotton at greater speeds, they needed more people to organize the fabrics, operate the machines and facilitate the entire process. This brought about a rise in business and caused people to leave their homes for work more often than not. In the beginning, the movement was spearheaded by England, because they had more access to iron, and were able to produce a number of necessities from raw material.

Factory Conditions

Working during the Industrial Revolution was grueling and dangerous. The laws in place today to protect people during labor were nonexistent during those times. Cotton was one of the most grueling and dangerous areas of work, because those laborers were subject to long hours. Industrial Revolution clothing was made with under conditions that had people spending long hours in factories with no windows, while enduring incredible heat from steam machines. It was very common for people to work more than 12 hours every day, even children as young as 9 or 10 years old.

Technology Advances During the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was marked by leaps and bounds in technology. The simple fact that cotton was produced by steam machine, rather than traditional tools, increased productivity exponentially. The spinning jenny helped kicked start the Industrial Revolution, due to the amount of fabric that could be crafted from cotton, which allowed for the production of Industrial Revolution clothing and other supplies. Some other technological advancements that took place during the Revolution included anesthesia, tires, the phonograph, canned food, the steam engine and the telegraph. Life has not been the same since.

After the Industrial Revolution

After the Revolution, cities began growing rapidly. People left areas of spread out land and began populating busy cities in order to work in factories. In fact, these cities grew quicker than they could handle, which caused them to live in slums and tenements. It changed a number of industries, because people began looking for ways to produce items quicker and more efficiently. Business models changed with the Revolution, as did the way that consumers live their lives.

Effects of the Industrial Revolution on the Industry

The largest Industrial Revolution change on the clothing industry was that people became more fashion conscious and began purchasing clothing for style, rather than necessity. Before the revolution, people crafted their own clothes and had just enough to get by. Since the Industrial Revolution and today, even people of average means have a number of outfits for different occasions, and continue to buy clothes simply because of their tastes. The social structure of the workplace changed as a result of the Industrial Revolution as well, because laws were passed that allow people to receive days off from work, capped hours and reasonable conditions. Additionally, child labor laws were passed, which protect people who are not of working age. The Industrial Revolution kick started changes that affect the way much of the world still live.

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