NEW ENGLAND TEXTILES INDUSTRY
Project supported financially by a RISD Textron Grant.
A self-led research project during Summer 2017 to study the current
state of textile-manufacturing capabilities in New England using qualitative research methods. I was advised on this project by Jess Daniels of Fibershed - a national grass roots organization dedicated to building regional fiber systems.
My research focused on the full industry system, from large mills working on government contracts, to small farm owners offering their equipment at low minimums. I did this research online, through an emailed survey sent directly to mills, and through phone and in-person interviews.My goal was to study the system and share what I learned in an accessible and helpful form for stakeholders including farms, mills, designers, policy makers, funders and consumers.
What are the bottlenecks and manufacturing capabilities of the New England Textiles Industry?
I used my research to write an executive summary of my research discussing manufacturing capabilities and bottlenecks, existing supply chain partnerships, potential funding opportunities, resilience factors for mills in the area, and questions for future research.
What support is needed to build new collaborations within the supply chain?
The first step to rebuilding a robust and resilient textiles industry is to assess and share the current reality. I also used my research to profile the 68 operating mills I found in a public google spreadsheet of currently operating mills that is useful for various stakeholders including farms, mills, designers, policy makers and consumers.
What story should we tell about the industry today? Is it dead?
The final piece of this project was a New England specific infographic explaining the steps involved to make a textile from fiber to product. I spent a large part of this project considering how consumers interact with the textiles industry, which is mostly invisible to those in the United States.