Textiles Spotlight

The Textiles Industry in the United States


The U.S. textile and apparel industry is a nearly $70 billion sector when measured by value of industry shipments. It remains one of the most significant sectors of the manufacturing industry and ranks among the top markets in the world by export value: $23 billion in 2018.  At 341,300 jobs, the U.S. industry is a globally competitive manufacturer of textile raw materials, yarns, fabrics, apparel, home furnishings, and other textile finished products. Capital expenditures were $2 billion in 2017, the latest year for which data are available.  In recent years, companies have focused on reorienting their businesses, finding more effective work processes, investing in niche products and markets, controlling costs through advanced technologies, and reshoring/nearshoring production.

Industry Subsectors

Yarn (Staple and Filament): Yarn manufacturing is an essential step that enables fibers to be made into fabric by weaving, knitting, or other fabric-forming methods. Due to competitive energy costs, a productive workforce, and the United States' location in the Western Hemisphere, the yarn subsector is strong and globally competitive. In 2018, U.S. exports of yarn totaled nearly $4.5 billion, of which 60 percent went to nations in North and Central America. 

Nonwovens: The end-use markets for nonwovens are classified as either disposable or durables. Disposables are made up of product categories such as absorbent hygiene, wipes, filtration, medical and surgical and protective apparel, while durables are comprised of geosynthetics, home and office furnishings, transportation, and building construction. Nonwovens are being used to make products lighter, more efficient, and cost effective. More and more of these lighter and longer-lasting nonwovens are being introduced into a wide variety of fields. 
Specialty and Industrial Fabrics: Specialty and industrial fabrics serve an array of markets, from awnings to automotive airbags. As the U.S. specialty fabric business has continued to grow, some areas are seeing rapid advancement. Automotive textiles represent the most valuable market for industrial textiles in the world. These materials cover a broad range of applications including upholstery and seating, floor covering and trunk liners, as well as safety belts, airbags, thermal and sound insulators, filters, hoses, tires and a variety of textile-reinforced flexible and hard composites. 
Medical Textiles: Medical textiles are one of the most important, continuously expanding and growing fields in technical textiles. The medical textile industry has been improving existing products and creating new ones with new materials and innovative designs. Some of these new products are being designed for less invasive surgical procedures, infection control, and accelerated healing. 
Protective Apparel: The global industrial protective apparel market was estimated at $9 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent between 2019 and 2025. The United States has a large and growing presence in this subsector as the demand for protective apparel is expected to grow thanks to safety standards in the manufacturing, chemical, oil and gas, and construction sectors. 

Fashion Apparel: The U.S. fashion apparel market is projected to reach nearly $400 billion by 2025. The industry is represented by manufacturers, contractors, brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers. The fashion apparel industry keeps pace with global market changes by continually adapting to customer trends and new technology.

Federal Programs & Legislation

Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute: On March 18, 2015, the Department of Defense committed $75 million to a competition for a Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MFT-MII). In March 2016, it was announced that a consortium of over 50 companies and universities were awarded the grant to form a new manufacturing hub focused on revolutionary fibers and textiles technologies, the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Institute (AFFOA), headquartered at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. AFFOA will bring over $300 million in public-private investment from leading universities and manufacturers to develop futuristic fabrics and textiles helping to accelerate the revival of textile manufacturing in the United States. The AFFOA will ensure that America leads in the manufacturing of new products from leading edge innovations in fiber science, commercializing fibers and textiles with extraordinary properties.

Prepared in collaboration with the International Trade Administration's Industry & Analysis Unit (I&A)

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Industry & Analysis (I&A) staff of industry, trade and economic analysts devise and implement international trade and investment strategies to strengthen the global competitiveness of U.S. industries. By combining in-depth analysis with the International Trade Administration’s industry relationships, I&A devises initiatives to unlock export and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses, represent the interests of U.S. industry in trade negotiations, and publishes research on global opportunities for U.S. companies.