Geoff Krasnov offers apparel/clothing/garment manufacturing and sourcing news.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


The latest edition of Textile World Magazine offers some interesting quantifications on man made fiber production from 1987 to today. In 1987 the predominant fibers produced were polyester (39%), nylon (20%), cellulosic ( rayon family-15%), acry;ic (14%) and olefin(polypropelyne-12%). Today, those figures are polester-67%, olefin-14%(primarily used in carpeting), nylon -8%, and acrylic and cellulosic at 5% and 6% respectively. What a dramatic change in polyester usage! Attribute this to the advent of technologies that imbue water absorbtion, water vapor transport, anti bacterial and anti microbial, and anti odor properties. With the latest nano technologies and plasma (ionized gas) applications it is likely this increase in market share will be permanant.

It is also interesting to look at where these fibers are made. In 1987 it was Asia at 34%, North America at 23%, Western Europe at 21%, Eastern Europe at 15% and the balnce in the "other catagory. Today, can you guess? 75% made in Asia, 10% Western Europe, 9% North America and 6% other. Asia has taken market share from every part of the world, and a huge part of it. If you are wondering what percentage of the worlds total fiber output is cotton, today that stands at 36%. Keep in mind that there are other natural fibers (wool, cashmere,hemp, etc), and, although I don't have market share numbers, it is safe to assume that natural fibers today make up less than half of total fiber output in the spectrum of textile products, from automotive to geo-textile to industrial to flooring and, of course, apparel. With the pressures of eco-sustainable products, as well as petroleum intensity, it will be interesting to watch which fibers become "cradle to cradle" and and gain share and which lose favor.