ABSTRACT

Industrial innovation in Britain, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, stimulated the introduction of the factory system and the migration of people from rural agricultural communities to urban industrial societies. The factory system brought elevated levels of economic growth to the purveyors of capitalism, but forced people to migrate into cities where working conditions in factories were, in general, harsh and brutal, and living conditions were cramped, overcrowded and unsanitary. Industrial developments, known collectively as the ‘Industrial Revolution’, were driven initially by the harnessing of water and steam power, and the widespread construction of rail, shipping and road networks. Parallel with these changes, came the development of purchasing ‘middle class’, consumers. Various technological ripples (or waves of innovative activity) continued (worldwide) up to the early-twenty-first century. Of recent note are innovations in digital technology, with associated developments, for example, in artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, materials technology, computing, energy storage, nano-technology, data storage, biotechnology, ‘smart textiles’ and the introduction of what has become known as ‘e-commerce’. This paper identifies the more important early technological innovations, their influence on textile manufacture, distribution and consumption, and the changed role of the designer and craftsperson over the course of these technological ripples. The implications of non-ethical production, globalisation and so-called ‘fast fashion’ and non-sustainability of manufacture are examined, and the potential benefits and opportunities offered by new and developing forms of social media are considered. The message is that hand-crafted products are ethical, sustainable and durable.

KEYWORD

innovation, fast fashion, sustainability, ethical manufacture, craft, durability

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