At this time of year, with the coming of all kinds of commercialized holidays, such as the Single’s Day earlier this week, the Thanksgiving at the end of November, and probably our favorite Christmas later in December, the world enmeshes itself in a shopping craze. Every one of us is so excited picking out presents for our family and friends as well as new outfits for ourselves, expecting the forthcoming season. Meanwhile, have you ever given any thought to the processes of producing clothes and shoes? What are the costs of this fast fashion faze? And, what “we” the textile industry have done as a part of this planet?
In the following two weeks, I will be sharing with you the manufacturing processes of apparels as well as the reasons for MACHIEN to initiate a “Change Laces Not Shoes” movement.
The Making of Garments
Taking cotton fabrics for instance, it takes at least 12 to 15 procedures on average to generate raw materials into a new clothing for sale (Ramesh Babu, Parande, Raghu, & Prem Kumar, 2007, p.143).
- Fiber Preparation from Animals or Plants: Collecting wools, cottons and other raw materials from animals and/or plants, and cleansing them before future use.
- Yarn Spinning: Spinning the fluffy raw materials into strip-patterned yarns. Yarns used to be spun through human efforts in the early times, which are now replaced by machines to reduce labor cost as well as to increase the compactness of the fabric.
- Slashing/Sizing: Applying a protective liquid coating to the fine-spun yarns in order to eliminate the projecting fibers produced during the yarn spinning process while obtaining higher weavability of the fabric (Hakoo, 2018).
- Weaving: Weaving two or more yarns by interlacing them into a full piece of cloth. The longer yarn, also known as warp, is fixed at the bottom as the weft(s) shuttles through it (Abrahart & Whewell, 2019).
- Knitting: Knitting extra cloths or accessories onto the main cloth through latch needles. Knitting may be used to substitute the weaving method in providing more prominent patterns.
- Tufting: Embedding wools or yarns onto the cloth through needle machines to create a fluffy feel of the fabric. It is very similar to knitting.
- Desizing: Removing the coating from the yarns and/or fabrics so as to lower the difficulty in future dyeing and printing.
- Scouring: Scrubbing the unfinalized fabric to remove any form of oil stains, adhesive, and etc.
- Bleaching: Bleaching the textile by destructing its natural griege yarn component.
- Singeing: Burning off protruding fibers by quickly spreading fire over the surface of the fabric. Despite the fact that sizing may remove the protruding fibers, the cloth will still be ruffled after a series of processing procedures, thus making the singeing process unavoidable.
- Mercerizing: Dipping the fabric in strong bases such as sodium hydroxide to increase the resilience and the strength of color absorption in the dyeing process.
- Heat Setting: Fixing the cloth through steam and/or ironing while also enhancing the flexibility of the fabric.
- Dyeing: Dyeing the fabric into different colors.
- Printing: Printing symbols and/or patterns onto the textile.
- Finishing: Finalizing the garment using scissor cuts, stitches and other types of further processing techniques.
During each phase of the garment-making, some kinds of chemical substance will be emitted even when natural materials are used, creating what we normally called, industrial pollution. For instance, during the desizing procedure, the biochemical oxygen demand (aka. BOD) of the effluence turn out to be higher above normal standards, implicating disastrous harms to the environment if not dealt appropriately. Research suggests that at least 50% of the entire effluence is produced during the desizing process (Ramesh et al., 2007, p.142). This gives us—people from the textile industry—extra reasons to take it seriously.
Since so much are to be done when manufacturing a single piece of fabric, we may somehow fathom how much more chemical substances are to be emitted during the production of other more complexed textile products. Taking a pair of shoes for example. Far aside from the knocking and nailing seen in a shoe repairing shop, there are also the rubber soles, shoe surfaces, and seams used in making a pair of shoes. If we were to make an unboxing video for shoe-making, I am sure that at least 20 to 30 items would be discovered on the table. These all indicate a burden on our environment. Sometimes, looking at our shoes which are somewhat old, out of fashion and tainted, we may feel that a new pair of shoes is needed even though the old one is still wearable. Yet, did you know that just by cleaning our shoes and changing their shoelaces on top would offer them a completely new appearance, just like the one below?
*We helped one of our lovely customers change her old shoelaces after cleaning her shoes, and voila! This is now her brand new shoes!
Allow me this opportunity to invite you in joining our “Change Laces Not Shoes” movement starting from today. Let us wear out personal fashion in a simple fashion! Next week, I will be sharing more information on how and what the textile industry has done for the planet in the past two decades to create a sustainable future during textile manufacturing.
- Abrahart, E. N., & Whewell, C. S. (2019). The weaving process. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/textile
- Hakoo, A. (2018). Sizing operation for textiles. TextileSchool. Retrieved from https://www.textileschool.com/1080/sizing-operation-for-textiles/
- Mercerization. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/technology/mercerization
- Ramesh Babu, B., Parande, A. K., Raghu, S., & Prem Kumar, T. (2007). Cotton textile processing: Waste generation and effluent treatment. The Journal of Cotton Science, 11, 141-153. Retrieved from http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US201300814471
- Whewell, C. S., & Abrahart, E. N. (2019). Textile. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/textile