Preface

Textiles is a broad discipline and for most people who work in the subject it is a very practical discipline too. The breadth of the subject and its straightforward place in the world has in many ways proved to be its academic undoing. There are so many facets, so many stories and examples, that the subject pretty much defies attempts to sum it up. Anyone who has taught textiles or has been asked ‘what is textiles?’ will know the impossibility of trying to explain something that can be science or art, business or hobby, and even worse of attempting to answer the question ‘what kinds of job are there in textiles?’ This difficulty is probably not a result of communication problems, since there is much excellent writing about textiles: books on special aspects, magazines, journals and websites. The difficulty lies more likely in the variety of issues needing explanation: how, for example, could someone starting a career in textiles comprehend how chemistry, history, a scarf, politics and economics might all intertwine? The classic answer, of course, is ‘only with a great deal of effort and good advice’. Most textile professionals acquire the complex range of knowledge and skills appropriate to their sector, piece by piece, building their expertise over years; few would claim to understand the full diversity of the textile world and its history.

Textiles and its associated industries constitute one of the largest sources of employment in the world. Consequently there are a myriad of educational courses in schools, colleges and universities specifically dedicated to the study or practice of textiles. For such courses, as far as we know, there are no textbooks that attempt to tackle the initial problem of explaining the diversity and complexity of the textile world. Partly this is for the reasons already given but partly also, we suspect, because it wasn't possible before now. The advent of modern communications and the internet has proved a significant boon to those who want to develop an overview of contemporary textile practice and industry. It is in the nature of textiles to be a part of its time, to be current, and even textile history plays an active role in the modern world. It is also in the nature of textiles to be where it is needed. With this field being so tied to geography and time, we suggest that without the internet, for example, it would have been almost impossible for someone to have written this book twenty years ago.

Conscious of the fact that most other subjects offer textbooks designed to introduce students to a variety of perspectives appropriate to their study, we set about building on this standard academic practice. The concept for this book was

-ix-

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The Textile Book
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I - Overviews *
  • 1 - What is Textiles? 3
  • 2 - The Culture Place of Textiles 7
  • 3 - Perceptions of Fabric 21
  • Part II - The Creative *
  • 4 - The Textile Designer 37
  • 5 - The Designer Maker 49
  • 6 - The Craftperson 63
  • 7 - The Textile Artist 77
  • Part III - The Social and Industrial Context *
  • 8 - Globel Textiles Tradition 91
  • 9 - Ecology 107
  • 10 - Industry 121
  • 11 - The Role of Trends and Forecasting 133
  • Part IV - Related Disciplines and Studies *
  • 12 - The Buyer 145
  • 13 - Journalism 157
  • 14 - Science 167
  • 15 - Research 179
  • Bibliography 191
  • Index 201
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