Australian Textile Industry

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

The Australian textile industry has struggled off and on to keep up with Great Britain or the USA in fashion, yet it has managed to become a part of the market and has started to focus on technical textiles as well.

Introduction

As you sit there, perhaps at your favorite coffee shop, did you know that the canvases on the wall are textiles? The clothes you are wearing and the leather on your seat are also textiles. The textile industry is global and massive in size. Every country has a piece of the market. Whether it's in raw goods, whole goods, technology, or science, every country in the world plays its part.

Traditional textiles are products made from fiber, filaments, thread, and yarn, which are the products we usually think of when we consider textiles. There are also nontraditional textiles, or technical textiles, which are products that are for technical uses like car filters or medical implants rather than aesthetic uses.

Australia's Textile Industry

Wool Samples
Wool

The Australian textile industry employs approximately 36,000 people out of the 23 million in the country. Although this is a relatively small amount, Australia has still become internationally known for garment companies such as Billabong or Van Heusen, among others. Although fashion is one of the larger exports for Australia, it also provides raw goods and machinery as well. Due to the massive amount of open land in Australia, it is capable of growing a variety of natural textile fibers, such as cotton, hemp, and Banyan tree fibers.

Australia's unique natural materials used for textiles make it stand out in the market. The country is known for its sale of wool as a raw product. Due to the environment and plant life, Australia uses fibers from the tree life, like the Banyan tree, to create clothing and other textiles. The Banyan tree is used to make thermal wear and even fashion items. Though it is not unique to Australia and actually originated in India, it is a tree of many properties. All of the parts of the tree can be utilized:

  • Bark - The bark can be used to create fibers for clothing and even paper. It can also be broken down into pastes and medicines for bruising and other ailments.
  • Fruit - The fruit off the tree is edible and used in local dishes and is considered to be a breed of mulberry.
  • Leaves - The leaves are used for shade and also for dishware.

Additionally, Australia has begun to join the countries that are working on technical textiles. Since this is becoming such a large market, innovation has become very important for this industry. Some of the new products in development are synthetic turf for arenas and fields and soft body armor for military use. Australia is also involved in creating medical devices like leg elevation pillows, diapers, and heat retention fabrics. It has partnerships with larger companies like Kimberly-Clark to develop new textiles for the market.

Textile Sample Book
Textiles

Advantages

One of Australia's advantages is seasonality, or regular patterns in business activity due to the seasons. Their seasons are always warm, allowing for longer and consistent growing times as opposed to other countries that deal with harsh winters. Due to Australia's location, its weather is directly opposite from many large exporters like China and the United States, thus allowing Australia to grow natural fibers during seasons when other countries cannot.

Secondly, Australia has begun to delve into the creation of innovative textiles. It has begun to address eco-friendly textiles, or materials that do not harm the environment. The textile industry as a whole is known for the serious amounts of waste it creates, especially from synthetic materials that do not always break down over time. Thus Australia has started creating green textiles using products such as hemp, which cause less waste and can address the damage the textile industry does to the environment.

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