Textiles hold immense significance in our day-to-day existence, permeating every facet of life with their profound impact. They shape and define our world, from basic garments to chic couture, touching us in countless ways. Textiles are not limited to home furnishings, décor, and packaging; they are also useful in scientific, industrial, and medical realms.

India has had a strong bond with textiles for centuries, leaving a lasting impression on the global stage during the cotton boom of the late 17th and 18th centuries. Known for producing natural fibres such as cotton, silk, jute, and wool, India’s textile industry has played a vital role in the country’s economy. Not only has it generated employment opportunities, but it has also contributed to industrial output and exports, making it a crucial sector for India’s growth.

Industrial development is closely linked to technological innovations. The textile trade’s primary characteristics changed with time due to the development of synthetic fabrics. Mass-produced blended fabrics dominated the textile scenario. In Indian and other large textile factories, productivity emerged as the key focus. Consumers reaped the advantages of synthetic fabrics, which offered a more cost-effective alternative to natural materials. Textile companies use material, design, and printing innovations as their competitive advantage to gain market share.

PET, the most common polymer resin of the polyester family, has become a significant fabric material for blending with natural fibres. Nonetheless, acquiring knowledge regarding the detrimental consequences of plastic/polyester and its permanent ecological implications was a gradual process.

The urgency of climate change and the resulting global warming fueled a widespread desire to reduce plastic consumption. As a result, there was a sudden resurgence of interest in natural plant fibres, with renewed dedication and enthusiasm.


What Are Natural Fibres?


Natural fibres are fibres that come from plants and animals. These fibres are categorised into two types based on their origin: plant fibre and protein-based fibre. Examples of cellulose or plant-based natural fibres include cotton, jute, and linen (which come from the flax plant). On the other hand, wool, silk, and mohair are protein- or animal-based natural fibres.


Types Of Natural Plant Fibre


  • Seed fibre, when the thread grows around the seed of the plant, for example, cotton, milkweed,
  • Bast, also known as phloem fibre, is a type of plant fibre that can be found encircling the stem. Examples of bast fibres include jute, hemp, and flax.
  • Leaf fibre from the leaves of plant-like banana, pineapple, sisal


All-natural fibres are strong and durable and offer a high strength-to-weight ratio; they are non-corrosive and highly absorbent, i.e., they show a high affinity for water. Natural fibres positively impact the environment as they are both renewable and completely biodegradable.


Therefore, one can well imagine why fabrics made of natural fibres remain a top choice for our clothing. But before we find out the role of natural fibres in technical textiles, let us quickly understand the characteristics or properties that define technical textiles.


Technical Textiles


Technical textiles refer to textile materials that meet rigorous quality standards and are designed to meet specific technical requirements.


Technical textiles are commonly utilised due to their various functional characteristics, such as mechanical strength, heat resistance, electrical conductivity, and long-lasting nature. 


These textiles are crucial in several industries, including agriculture, medicine, environmental protection, construction, transportation, and sports. Furthermore, the civil engineering field has observed a rising demand for geotextiles, especially in road construction projects.


Researchers worldwide are working on technical textiles, focusing on new specialty fibres and composites. The focus lies on eco-conscious processing to enhance the durability of organic fibres, ultimately satisfying updated technical requirements.


Due to growing environmental concerns and a growing realisation of the negative impacts of synthetic materials, there has been a renewed emphasis on using natural fibres as effective reinforcement materials in composite structures. However, fibres derived from plants and animals often have drawbacks, such as limited moisture resistance and compatibility. 


Consequently, specific chemical treatments are needed to address these issues, promoting better fibre bonding and enhancing the overall mechanical properties of the natural fibres.


Advanced Textile Materials: Applications


Numerous applications widely embrace cutting-edge textiles made from natural fibres:


Industrial Sector


  • In the automotive and aircraft sectors, natural fibres like flax, hemp, sisal, and wool have applications as interior components and are already being utilised in car interiors.
  • Thermal insulation materials and sound-proofing solutions benefit from using modified natural fibres.
  • In architectural applications, the use of synthetic fibres in architectural applications is likely to be substituted with natural fibre-reinforced textiles. In addition, we may soon see advanced textiles as a material for sunscreens, cladding, and more.
  • The mirror casing, paperweights, voltage stabiliser cover, projector cover, helmet, and roof all utilise composites reinforced with coir and polyester.
  • Rice husk fibres, cotton, ramie, and jute fibre are used in various applications like building materials, the furniture industry, clothing, ropes, sewing thread, fishing nets, packing materials, and paper manufacturing.


Consumer or Non-Industrial Use

Innovative eco-friendly textiles are rising, offering great potential in various applications like clothing and household fabrics.

Cotton, a highly absorbent and soft fabric found in nature, is widely employed worldwide in producing apparel and various consumer fabric goods. Nevertheless, cotton processing is laborious, encompassing activities like cleaning, bleaching the fibres, and transforming them into yarns. The cotton sector faces challenges associated with manpower-intensive cultivation but also grapples with outdated machinery at mills, subpar efficiency, and various operational concerns, including periodic scarcity of raw materials.


Due to the prevailing circumstances, we are witnessing the rise of novel advanced natural textiles, although numerous are still in the developmental or experimental phase.


Pineapple Fabric


Pineapple leaves yield fibres which, after undergoing an industrial transformation, become a leather-like, natural, non-woven textile. This pineapple fibre is pliable, smooth, and readily adapted for cutting, stitching, or printing. The resulting fabric is also durable and breathable, making it a popular choice for fashion collections across various nations. Moreover, it finds utility in car seats and interiors.


Coffee Ground Fibre


The coffee ground, which remains after extracting the liquid coffee, possesses potential as a raw material for converting into a natural fibre. Using coffee ground fibre, the fabric offers remarkable anti-odour properties, protects against UV rays, and dries rapidly. This has sparked the interest of the fashion industry and various global apparel brands, who are keen on exploring the development of a clothing line incorporating this unique fibre.


Lotus Fibre


For centuries, lotus stem fabric has been utilised in Myanmar and Thailand, which are located in the far eastern regions. Yet, the task is to update its production methods, ensuring commercial feasibility and appealing to present-day needs and preferences.


Fibres From Citrus Fruit By-Products


Another source of technical textiles from plant fibre is the by-products of citrus fruits.


Technical Natural Textiles


In addition to creating different types of eco-friendly fabrics, the industry focuses on enhancing traditional materials like cotton by addressing their limitations and introducing more convenient properties to meet diverse needs.


Wrinkle-Free Cotton


A fabric’s proneness to wrinkling relies on its weight, weave intricacy, composition, and treatment. Generally, when the weight is higher, and the weave structure is more intricate, the material exhibits enhanced wrinkle resistance. Consequently, customers favour cotton apparel treated as wrinkle-resistant due to its comfort and convenience.


In India, numerous manufacturers specialise in the production of wrinkle-free cotton. They aim to enhance the fabric by treating it with formaldehyde and heat, increasing the fibre diameter and resulting in a straighter appearance.


Antimicrobial Fabric


Antimicrobial fabric is any textile that safeguards against bacteria, mould, and other microbes. 


This is achieved by treating the fabric with specific chemicals that impede the growth of pathogens. Certain high-performance fabrics crafted from specially treated yarns also possess inherent antimicrobial traits. 


These unique yarns combat the development of microbes by actively targeting pathogens and inhibiting their proliferation at a cellular level. Furthermore, these antimicrobial fabrics promote efficient moisture transfer to the fabric’s surface. The garments made from these special fabrics offer superior comfort and enhanced durability. 


The efficacy of the antimicrobial treatment varies among textiles, depending on the efficiency of the specific process. Traditional fabrics like cotton and other natural materials have a porous nature that facilitates microbe growth. As a result, there is a growing preference for antimicrobial materials among fashion designers in India and other tropical countries.




The Indian textile industry is experiencing impressive advancements thanks to a supply chain driven by technology, leading to growth. This sector contributes more than 4% to India’s GDP. Technological progress in automation, AI-powered machinery, and innovative products are transforming the cotton-dependent industry. 

The widespread usage of technical textiles in various sectors further propels the industry’s potential for growth. Additionally, as designers increasingly prioritise sustainable fabrics, natural fibres are set to dominate the fashion scene.


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