What Differences Between the Garment Industry and Textile Industry?


The garment industry and the textile industry are of paramount importance due to their significant impact on the global economy, social development, and consumer lifestyle. Firstly, these industries are major contributors to economic growth and employment generation worldwide. They support millions of jobs, from farmers cultivating raw materials to garment workers assembling finished products. Moreover, these sectors foster international trade and contribute substantially to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries, making them vital players in the global market.

Secondly, the garment and textile industries are essential in meeting one of humanity’s basic needs: clothing. By producing a wide array of fabrics and fashionable garments, they cater to diverse consumer preferences and contribute to the expression of individual identities. The ever-evolving fashion trends influenced by these industries drive consumer demand, thus shaping the culture of clothing and style.

Thirdly, these industries have significant social implications, particularly in developing countries where they play a role in empowering women and marginalized communities. Garment factories often provide opportunities for women to enter the workforce and achieve financial independence. Additionally, the textile industry sustains livelihoods for small-scale farmers and artisans who supply raw materials and create traditional textiles. Such social impact is essential in promoting economic inclusion and fostering social progress.

While the garment and textile industries bring numerous benefits, they also face challenges related to sustainability and environmental impact. The resource-intensive nature of these industries raises concerns about waste generation, water usage, and the use of chemicals. However, there is a growing awareness of sustainable practices, prompting companies to adopt eco-friendly approaches such as recycling, sustainable sourcing, and ethical production methods. Addressing these challenges is crucial to ensure the long-term viability and positive impact of the garment and textile industries on a global scale.

Garment Industry

The garment industry operates on a larger scale compared to traditional tailors. Garment factories use sewing machines and employ numerous workers to produce clothing items in mass quantities. This increased production capacity allows them to create thousands of pieces of clothes, meeting the demands of a broader market.

One of the key advantages of garment factories is their well-structured management system. Compared to individual tailors, garment factories have a more organized approach to production, ensuring efficiency and quality control. The utilization of advanced technologies and modern machinery in garment factories facilitates faster production and helps maintain consistent product quality.

The target market of the garment industry is vast and diverse, ranging from high-end boutiques and department stores to more affordable retail outlets like supermarkets. The ability to produce a large volume of clothes makes it possible for garment factories to cater to different market segments and price points.

Garment factories often provide a specific service known as “CMT” (cut, make, trim). This process involves cutting the fabric, sewing the pieces together, and finishing the garments. This service is sought after by fashion brands and retailers who prefer to outsource certain stages of the production process while retaining control over design and sourcing of materials.

Textile Industry

Textile workers in Tiruppur, South India

The textile industry is a vast and multifaceted sector that involves the production of fibers, fabrics, and materials used in various applications. It encompasses the entire process of turning raw fibers into finished textiles that are used to create a wide range of products, including clothing, home furnishings, technical textiles, and industrial materials.

In the textile business, the value chain is made up of several important steps, such as making the fibre, spinning it, weaving or knitting it, dying or printing it, and finishing it. It starts with the production of fibers, which can be natural (such as cotton, silk, wool, and linen) or synthetic (such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic). These fibers are then processed through spinning to convert them into yarn, which can be further woven or knitted to create raw fabrics.

After the cloth is made, it is either dyed or printed to give it colour and designs. Finally, the textile is finished to enhance its appearance, texture, and performance characteristics. This can involve treatments like calendering, brushing, or applying water repellent coatings.

Differences Between the Garment Industry and Textile Industry

Here are the differences between the garment industry and the textile industry:

Function and Scope

Textile Industry

a person weaving fabric by hand

The textile industry involves the production of fabrics and materials. It includes processes such as spinning (converting fibers into yarn), weaving (creating fabrics through interlacing yarns), knitting (forming knitted fabrics with loops of yarn), dyeing (adding color to fabrics), finishing (treating fabrics for specific properties), and printing (applying patterns or motifs to fabrics). The focus of the textile industry is on manufacturing raw materials or semi-finished fabrics that can be used in various applications beyond garments, such as home textiles, technical textiles, and industrial textiles.

Garment Industry

a woman in gray sweater making patterns using a fabric 

 The garment industry is involved in transforming the fabrics and materials produced by the textile industry into finished clothing items. It includes processes like pattern-making (creating templates for cutting fabric pieces), cutting (cutting the fabric according to patterns), sewing (joining fabric pieces together), and finishing (adding closures, buttons, zippers, etc.). The garment industry’s primary focus is on the production of ready-to-wear apparel like shirts, dresses, trousers, jackets, and other clothing items for consumers.

Production Processes

Textile Industry

The textile industry’s primary concern is the creation of fabrics and materials using machinery and equipment designed for large-scale production. The processes involved in textile manufacturing can vary depending on the type of fabric being produced, but they generally revolve around converting raw fibers into yarn and then weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing, or printing the yarn to create fabrics. Explore how our latest post builds on the insights of Small-scale vs. Large-scale clothing manufacturers.

Garment Industry

The garment industry is more labor-intensive and involves skilled workers in the sewing and assembling processes. Garment manufacturers take the fabrics and materials produced by the textile industry and use industrial sewing machines and manual labor to cut, sew, and assemble the fabric pieces into finished garments.

Business Aspects

Textile Industry

The textile industry is usually more capital-intensive as it requires significant investments in machinery and equipment for large-scale production. The textiles produced are then sold to various sectors, including the garment industry, home textiles, technical textiles, and more.

Garment Industry

The garment industry is often more closely tied to fashion trends and consumer demands. It focuses on creating clothing items in different styles, designs, and sizes to cater to the ever-changing preferences of consumers. The distribution chain in the garment industry may involve brands, wholesalers, retailers, and e-commerce platforms.


Textile Industry

Asian workers cleaning cotton in farmland 

The textile industry produces a wide range of fabrics and materials, including cotton, silk, wool, polyester, denim, and more. These fabrics are used in various applications beyond garments, such as bedding, upholstery, industrial products, and medical textiles.

Garment Industry

couturier measuring a suits lapel

The garment industry produces finished clothing items using the fabrics and materials provided by the textile industry. These include shirts, dresses, trousers, jackets, skirts, and other apparel items for men, women, and children.

Market and Consumer Focus

Textile Industry

The textile industry caters to a broader market, including various industries beyond fashion and apparel. Its customers include garment manufacturers, interior decorators, automotive manufacturers, and more.

Garment Industry

The garment industry focuses on the end consumers, offering clothing products designed to meet their fashion preferences and lifestyle needs.

Types of Textile Industries

These are just some of the major types of textile industries, each serving different purposes and applications. The textile industry continues to evolve with technological advancements, new fiber developments, and a growing emphasis on sustainable practices to meet the demands of diverse industries and consumers.

1. Apparel 

This segment focuses on producing fabrics and materials used in the fashion and clothing industry. It includes a wide range of fabrics for garments, such as cotton, silk, wool, linen, polyester, rayon, denim, and various blends of fibers.

2. Home 

apartment interior with bed near chair and and curtains on windows

The home textile industry deals with fabrics used in home furnishings and decor. It includes products like beddings, bed linens, towels, curtains, drapes, tablecloths, upholstery fabrics, and decorative textiles.

3. Technical 

This sector specializes in producing textiles with specific functional properties for non-conventional applications. Technical textiles are used in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, construction, healthcare, sports, geotextiles for erosion control, and protective textiles for personal safety.

4. Industrial 

Industrial textiles are used for technical purposes in various industrial applications. They include filtration fabrics, conveyor belts, insulation materials, ropes, hoses, and other industrial components.

5. Medical 

a woman arranging medical tools in an operating room

This segment focuses on textiles used in the medical and healthcare sectors. Medical textiles include products like surgical gowns, drapes, dressings, bandages, wound dressings, and hygiene products like diapers and sanitary napkins.

6. Automotive 

Automotive textiles are used in the interior and exterior of vehicles. They include seat covers, carpets, headliners, airbags, safety belts, and other automotive components.

7. Fashion 

The fashion textile industry caters to the high-end and luxury fashion markets, producing exclusive and innovative fabrics for haute couture and designer clothing.

8. Sports 

latin American instructor helping woman exercising with battle ropes 

This segment produces textiles used in sportswear and activewear. These fabrics are designed to provide comfort, breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and performance-enhancing features for athletes and active individuals.

9. Eco-friendly and Sustainable 

With a growing focus on sustainability, this industry produces textiles made from organic, recycled, or eco-friendly fibers and adopts environmentally friendly production practices.

10. Nonwoven 

Nonwoven textiles are produced by bonding fibers together rather than weaving or knitting. They are used in various applications, including disposable medical products, wipes, geotextiles, and filtration materials.

Types of Garment Industries

These are some of the major types of garment industries, each catering to specific market segments and consumer preferences. The garment industry continues to evolve with changing fashion trends, consumer demands, and increasing awareness of sustainability and social responsibility.

1. Ready-to-Wear 

The men's department of a typical Zara store. Almere, Netherlands

This is the most common type of garment industry, producing a wide range of ready-to-wear clothing items for men, women, and children. These garments are manufactured in standard sizes and designs for mass production and are sold in retail stores and online.

2. Haute Couture 

Chanel Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2011–2012 Fashion Show by Karl Lagerfeld

Haute couture refers to high-end, custom-made clothing designed and tailored specifically for individual clients. This segment of the garment industry focuses on exquisite craftsmanship, exclusive fabrics, and one-of-a-kind designs created by renowned fashion houses and designers.

3. Fast Fashion

The fast fashion industry produces trendy and affordable clothing items inspired by the latest runway and celebrity styles. It aims to quickly deliver new collections to consumers, emphasizing quick production and rapid turnover of styles.

4. Sportswear

 This segment specializes in producing athletic and sportswear garments. It includes activewear, workout clothing, sports uniforms, and performance-enhancing apparel designed for various sports and physical activities.

5. Children’s 

Gymboree store at the Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto in 2008

 This industry caters specifically to the clothing needs of infants, toddlers, and young children. It offers a wide range of clothing items designed with comfort, safety, and style in mind for the younger age groups.

6. Workwear and Uniform 

This segment focuses on manufacturing specialized clothing for various professions and industries, such as healthcare uniforms, safety apparel, hospitality uniforms, and corporate workwear.

7. Bridal and Wedding 

David's Bridal shop, Ann Arbor, Michigan

 This industry specializes in designing and creating wedding dresses, bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and other formalwear for weddings and special occasions.

8. Outerwear 

This segment produces a variety of outerwear garments such as coats, jackets, parkas, and vests designed to provide protection and warmth in different weather conditions.

9. Plus Size 

This industry caters specifically to producing clothing items for plus-size individuals, offering a range of fashionable and well-fitted garments to meet their unique needs.

10. Sustainable and Ethical 

With a growing focus on sustainability and ethical practices, this segment produces clothing items using eco-friendly materials, responsible manufacturing processes, and fair labor practices. Dive into our latest post on the transformative world of Ethical Sourcing and Manufacturing.


The garment industry and textile industry are two integral but distinct sectors within the fashion and clothing domain. The textile industry is primarily involved in the production of fabrics and materials through processes like spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, and finishing. These textiles serve as the foundational materials for the garment industry, which focuses on transforming them into a wide range of ready-to-wear clothing items. Understanding the differences between these industries is essential for efficient collaboration and decision-making in the fashion supply chain.

While the textile industry forms the backbone of clothing production, the garment industry caters directly to consumer demands, reflecting the ever-changing fashion trends and preferences. Both industries play pivotal roles in the global economy, driving innovation and sustainability efforts to meet the diverse needs of consumers while shaping the dynamic landscape of fashion and textiles.

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