|Knitting machines can be flat, like these, V-shaped, circular, and in combinations. Knits are used for socks, underwear, stockings, sweaters, coats, bedcovers, and upholstery. The textile industry is enormous because our daily comfort depends on it, and knits have become so varied that we barely think about them. Knit fabrics are often wool and cotton, but silk, nylon, and rayon also make excellent knits. Polyester and polyester blends are so easy to maintain and cheap to produce that they have turned Shanghai into the leading producer of polyester fabric.
As the textile industry entered the modern age, new techniques were developed to treat fabric to change its characteristics. Fabrics could be softer, stronger, fire-resistant, or water-proof. Millions of new colors could be produced with the test tube. China inherited and then expanded on the research to produce even more sophisticated products. Unfortunately, subsequent research has shown that both some of the original products and some new products are harmful or give off harmful by-products.
Certain dyes and chemical additives have been banned by the European Union and that has changed the Chinese garment industry. As the EU begins to enforce it regulatory measures on chemicals (REACH) both within the EU and contained in imports from abroad, it will have far reaching impacts on chemical industries world-wide, not just China. The Bush administration is not a supporter, as the US seems to be a major producer of these chemicals. The EU regulations are intended to decrease or eliminate the use of unsafe or carcinogenic chemicals. Suppliers must be able to show that their products are clean, and show that the raw materials in their products are also free of the chemicals. If successful, it could help reduce pollutants world-wide.
China Index >> Shanghai, Bund, and Pudong >> Shanghai Textile Industry
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Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007