Effects of the Industrial Revolution on Indian Fashion

One daily practise that everyone of us adheres to religiously is fashion. In India, the word “fashion” denotes status and social class. Fashion not only reveals one’s sense of style but also their socioeconomic standing. Fashion is therefore extremely important in India. Now, the majority of Indians are more interested in contemporary fashion than in wearing their traditional attire. The ancient handloom business was replaced by polyester and other machine-made fabrics as the industrial revolution extended across the nation. This had a serious impact on Indian textiles. The general public preferred fine, inexpensive mass-produced fabrics to coarse, expensive hand-made ones.

The low-cost alternatives to expensive fabrics altered the course of the Indian textile industry. The country’s weavers and handlooms were forgotten as the fashion designers chose those garments and produced stunning designs and clothing that the general public was drawn to. Only a small number of people who still value the crafts and communities that produced the traditional Indian textiles were given access to the rich fabrics. The Indian textile industry was severely impacted by the industrial revolution for many years. Despite the fact that the industrial revolution also had many positive impacts on the fashion industry,

History: Beginning of The Industrial Revolution in The Textile Sector

India has long been recognised for its revolution in textile manufacturing. India’s ancient textile revolution was all but destroyed during the colonial era. India’s contemporary textile revolution did not begin until the construction of Fort Gloster near Calcutta at the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, the cotton textile business began in Bombay in the 1850s. A Parsi cotton merchant interested in both domestic and international trade founded it in 1854. The majority of the early mills were constructed by Parsi traders who traded yarn and textiles both domestically and on the continents of China and Africa.

In 1861, Gujarat’s first cotton mill was established. The Gujarati trading class was primarily to blame for this. In 1861, the first cotton mill was built in Ahmedabad, which would later develop into a rival city to Bombay. The Gujarati trade elite played a significant role in the revolution in the textile industry’s spread to Ahmedabad. A political movement to liberate India from British domination was started as a result of the tremendous resentment this caused. In the wake of widespread social turmoil and the emergence of nationhood, Indian Revolution textiles were employed as protest and national identity emblems. After India was freed from British rule in 1947, modernization became a top priority, forcing textile producers to acclimate to more metropolitan settings. To assure their sustained cultural, economic, and global significance, they developed their abilities over time.

The number of cotton gin mills increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century, reaching 178. However, the cotton textile industry was in disarray in 1900 as a result of the great famine, and several mills in Bombay and Ahmedabad were compelled to close for protracted periods of time. Britain started sending yarn and fabric produced on machines to India in the 1780s. The promotion of low-cost fabric exports and tariffs on Indian textile imports aided Britain’s revolution in the rapid growth of the textile industry but hindered the development of India’s own industry.

The importance of manufacturing and international trade was promoted at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London and at succeeding international exhibitions held throughout Europe. Indian spinners and weavers experienced widespread unemployment and hardship as a result of the rapid replacement of all but the finest or roughest Indian fabrics by cloth produced in Lancashire mills.

Significance of the Industrial Revolution in Indian Fashion

Prior to the start of the industrial revolution, India was the world’s leader in the cotton textile industry. These cotton products were once sent to a variety of locations around the world, including what is now modern-day Europe, America, and the Middle East. In fact, throughout the 1750s, India is known to have dominated the global cotton textile market. India was a country with inexpensive labour, so cotton production was high and prices were low. It is hardly surprising that Indian calicoes became well-liked in Britain by the end of the 17th century. After the industrial revolution, things did, however, alter. The Indian textile industry was put in danger by the invention of steam power and its use starting in 1815.

Steam power helped the power loom and the spinning mule become more useful and efficient devices. India was once ruled by the British, so Indian farmers were forced to work on cotton plantations to supply the fuel for English mills. As a result of the industrial revolution, big cities began to overcrowd. Faster and more effective manufacturing of goods and materials was made possible by the advent of assembly lines, factories, electricity, and railroads.

Positive impacts of the industrial revolution in Indian fashion

The major positive impacts of the industrial revolution in Indian fashion are -

Introduction of Indian Textiles into International Markets

Spices and textiles dominated world trade throughout the pre-industrial era. India’s textile revolution was particularly well-known, and for centuries, trade with Southeast and Far East Asia was robust. European businesses started to participate in this commercial nexus around the start of the sixteenth century. The Portuguese were the first to arrive after discovering a sea route from Europe to the East because they could avoid paying the exorbitant taxes on commodities shipped overland through the Middle East.

Increase in Demand for Indian Craftspeople

The desire for Indian handicrafts is still quite great today. Both international fashion designers and British high-street retailers rely on the abilities of Indian artisans to make hand-beaded and embroidered clothing. Because India is frequently linked to low-quality, mass-produced clothing and worker exploitation, some fashion firms decide not to support it. The designers highlighted in International Impact have built profitable commercial connections with the Indian craftspeople they work with. Indian designers are regarded for their breadth of knowledge and expertise as well as their capacity to produce original designs for a global clientele.

Textile Trade Exchanges

The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602 after the British East India Company had been established in 1600. These organisations traded silver and gold for Indian textiles and Malay spices, which were then exported to Europe and Asia. India-made textiles swiftly gained traction in Europe. The number of words related to Indian textiles that have entered the English language proves beyond doubt that they are popular. The coveted high-end textiles that have been collected over time are organised and studied in museums based on the way they were made.


Positive impacts of the industrial revolution in the Indian fashion industry started to appear as the government and NGOs developed uplifting initiatives for the weaving villages and artists, who were starving as a result of the decline in handcrafted textiles. Furthermore, the exquisite designs and weaves of traditional fabrics were attracting more and more attention from modern designers. A rise in the sale of these textiles was brought about by the second phase of the industrial revolution, which was held particularly to promote these fabrics and craftspeople. Today’s high-end fashion designers collaborate closely with the craftspeople to produce stunning garments utilising solely Indian materials, which is the most precious gift of the industrial revolution.

Updated on: 16-Dec-2022


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