Textile Industry

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Textile Industry


one of the oldest and largest sectors of light industry, producing fabrics, textiles, knitwear, and other articles from various types of plant, animal, and chemical (artificial and synthetic) fiber. The textile industry occupies an important place in the production of social product and the satisfaction of personal needs. The industry includes the following divisions: initial processing of textile raw materials, fulling and felting, and the production of cotton fabrics, linen fabrics, wool fabrics, silk fabrics, nonwoven materials, hemp and jute, netting, textile clothing accessories and notions, and knitwear. Textile products are used in the manufacture of clothing and footwear and in other sectors of industry, such as the furniture industry and machine building.

Table 1. Fabric production in the USSR in 1913 and 1940 (million sq m)
Cotton ...............1, 8172, 715
Wool ...............138155
Silk ...............35.467
Linen ...............121272

The production of textile goods began in antiquity. The cultivation of cotton and the hand production of yarn and fabric were known in India, China, and Egypt many centuries before the Common Era. The textile industry was the first sector to take up machine production, giving rise in the second half of the 18th century to the industrial revolution.

In Russia, in addition to cloth mills and capitalist production, there were many small domestic enterprises producing wool goods. Such enterprises belonged to gentry landowners and were based on serf labor. “Cloth production,” V. I. Lenin wrote, “is an example of that specific phenomenon of Russian history—the employment of serf labor in industry” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3, p. 471).

In the early 18th century many large wool, flax, and silk mills were built in regions where the population had long engaged in domestic production of linen fabrics; the wool mills produced cloth, and the cotton mills manufactured primarily sails and linen. The cotton fabric industry arose in Russia much later than other sectors of the textile industry, and it developed on the basis of linen weaving. Relatively large cotton mills for cloth production appeared in the second half of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

In prerevolutionary Russia the textile industry was one of the chief sectors of manufacturing. In 1913 it accounted for 20.5 percent of all industrial output and approximately 32 percent of consumer goods output. The industry was located primarily in the Central Zone of European Russia; here were located the factory of the Society of the Manufactory of Vikula Morozov, the Company of the Bogorodsk-Glukhov Manufactory, the Industrial Society of the Nosov Brothers, the Musi-Guzhon Silk Mill, and the

Table 2. USSR textile industry output for the principal fabric types in the period 1950–75
Cotton (million sq m) ...............2,7454,8386,1526,635
Wool (million sq m) ...............193439643740
Silk (million sq m) ...............1066751,1461,508
Linen (million sq m) ...............257516707778
Knitted underwear and outerwear (millionarticles) ...............1975831,2301,417
Table 3. Fabric production in the foreign socialist countries (millions sq m)
Bulgaria ...............185.0338.726.248.08.731.1
Czechoslovakia ...............453.1547.974.184.270.8102.9
German Democratic Republic ...............416.6473.2147.1106.768.2120.6
Hungary ...............246.5351.430.836.228.454.5
Poland ...............604.0952.7108.7181.3103.8193.3
Rumania ...............248.3591.129.878.125.388.8
Yugoslavia ...............257.0375.545.866.119.439.5

Prokhorov Manufactory. The St. Petersburg area and Astrakhan and Saratov provinces were also important centers of the textile industry. There was no textile industry in Middle Asia or Kazakhstan—the primary sources of raw material. The development of the textile industry was held back by a shortage of raw materials and by the industry’s dependence on imports. The major textile enterprises were equipped primarily with imported machinery. Domestic machine building satisfied only slightly more than 20 percent of the demand for machine tools and machinery. The production of knitwear and textile clothing accessories and notions, silk winding, and the primary processing of flax and wool were just beginning as industries. Textile industry workers labored under extremely difficult conditions, and child labor was widely used.

After World War I and the Civil War of 1918–20, production volume dropped sharply. During the very first years of Soviet power, new factories were built and old enterprises were brought back into operation. By 1926–27, the following factories were in operation: the Lakin and Pioneer factories in Vladimir Oblast, the F. E. Dzerzhinskii Weaving Mill in Leningrad, and the F. E. Dzerzhinskii Krasnaia Talka Spinning Mill in Ivanovo. The total production of cotton, linen, wool, and silk fabrics surpassed the 1913 level. During the years of the first five-year plan (1929–32), 13 cotton, three linen, four wool, and several other textile enterprises were launched. Under the second five-year plan (1933–37), construction was completed on the first phase of the Tashkent and Barnaul cotton fabric combines, the Dushanbe Textile Combine, the linen combines in Smolensk, Orsha, and Kostroma, a cloth combine in Semipalatinsk, a silk-weaving mill in Nukha, and other textile enterprises.

As a result of increased production capacities, the production of cotton fabrics in 1940 significantly surpassed the 1913 level (see Table 1). The production of knitwear increased from 8.3 million articles in 1928 to 186 million in 1940.

During the prewar five-year plans, the textile industry became established in the Union republics of Middle Asia and Transcaucasia, and a new sector of textile industry emerged—the production of nonwoven, fabric-type materials. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–15, the textile industry in the territory temporarily occupied by fascist German troops suffered great losses, and many enterprises were ruined. Under the fourth five-year plan (1946–50), the textile industry was rebuilt, and its output surpassed the prewar level.

After the war all sectors of the textile industry developed significantly. Cotton enterprises were built in Kamyshin, Engel’s, Kherson, Barnaul (a second combine), Dushanbe (second phase), Cheboksary, Iartsevo, Omsk, Gori, Krasnodar, Alitus, Kalinin, Alma-Ata, and Bukhara. New woolen enterprises were built in Minsk, Briansk, Ivanovo, Krasnodar, Tiumen’, Chernigov, Chita, and Chernogorsk. Silk enterprises were built in Krasnoiarsk, Naro-Fominsk, Kalinin, and Leningrad. Linen enterprises were established in Zhitomir, Rovno, Velikie Luki, and Panevėžys. Enterprises producing knitwear were built in Cheboksary, Ufa, Pinsk, Ogre, and Kursk.

The introduction of new production capabilities and highly productive equipment and the transition in enterprises to the new system of planning and economic incentive helped increase the production growth rate for fabrics and knitwear. The development of the textile industry in the period 1950–74 is shown in Table 2. In 1975 the USSR led the world in the production of wool and linen fabrics.

The growth in textile output is supported by a corresponding increase in the production of textile raw materials. In prerevolutionary Russia, which produced one-fourth as much cotton fabrics and virtually no knitwear, approximately 50 percent of the cotton fiber used was imported from the USA and Egypt. The USSR now supplies all its own raw material needs and exports more than 500,000 tons of cotton fiber. At the same time, the qualitative composition of textile raw materials has also changed. Plants manufacturing artificial fibers have mastered the production of new types of materials, including acetate silk, Lavsan, and Nitron.

Considerable attention is being devoted to improvements in the quality and expansion of the range of textile goods through the introduction of new types of fabrics and knitwear, the use of colorfast and bright dyes, and the careful finishing of fabrics. Further increases in production and quality improvements are made possible by the technical reequipping of textile enterprises, the introduction of new machinery and progressive technology, and the mechanization and automation of production. Spinning-and-twisting frames, highly productive carding and pneumatic spinning machines, and pneumatic rapier looms and other shuttleless looms are being introduced in the textile industry.

Scientific and technological progress in the sectors of the textile industry and the rising qualifications of workers are promoting an increase in labor productivity. The average production of yarn per worker per hour increased 140 percent in the cotton fabric industry between 1940 and 1974; in the wool fabric industry the increase was 250 percent, and in the linen sector it was 130 percent. In the same period the average production of gray cloth per worker per hour in these sectors increased 120 percent, 140 percent, and 130 percent, respectively.

As of 1975, the textile industry in the USSR is served by ten scientific research institutes and five planning institutes, employing more than 7,000 specialists in various fields. In order to train production specialists and designers for the textile industry, textile institutes have been established in Moscow, Leningrad, Ivanovo, Tashkent, Kostroma, and Kiev, and several technicums have been opened.

Table 4. Fabric production in the capitalist countries in 1975 (millions sq m)
France ...............900170370
Germany Federal Republic of ...............900100420
Great Britain ...............400180401
Italy ...............900250280*
Japan ...............1 9003203000
USA ...............40001006500

The textile industry is also developing successfully in the foreign socialist countries. Fabric production is being increased in these countries through the use of the domestic potential of each country and through comprehensive cooperation between countries.

Table 3 shows the level of fabric production in the socialist countries. It is estimated that the production of cotton fabrics in the People’s Republic of China in 1974 was 8.34 billion running meters.

Among the capitalist countries, the textile industry is most highly developed in the USA, Japan, Great Britain, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Italy. Production figures for various fabrics for 1975 are shown in Table 4 on page 549.

Among the developing countries, production of cotton fabrics in 1974 was 7.95 billion running meters in India, 275 million running meters in Egypt, and 495 million running meters in Iran (1972–73, including fabrics made from synthetic fibers).


Liashchenko, P. I. Istoriia narodnogo khoziaistva SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1972.
Khromov, P. A. Ocherki ekonomiki tekstil’noi promyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Vladimirskii, N. N. Ot domashnego tkachestva k sotsialisticheskomu tekstil’nomu proizvodstvu. Kostroma, 1949.
Korneev, A. M. Tekstil’naia promyshlennosti SSSR i puti ee razvitiia. Moscow, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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