College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Textile and Apparel Industry


One of the best ways of considering a career in Textiles and Apparel is to spend a little time reviewing the types of companies that are involved in the business.

  • The "Textile and Apparel Pipeline" consists of companies that are
  • Involved with fibers -- the building blocks of textile materials.
  • Primary textile manufacturers, who produce yarns and fabrics, as well as add coloration and finishes -- they create the materials used in fashion and other technological applications.
  • Apparel Manufacturers -- businesses such as women's wear, children's wear or menswear.
  • Retailing enterprises -- where the textile product interfaces with the consumer.  There are numerous ways for retailers to function, including stores, catalogs, television and the internet.  It's important to note too, that retailers often manufacture their own products, thus becoming apparel manufacturers themselves!

What follows for the rest of this page is a brief description of some of the various firms that participate in the "Textiles and Apparel Pipeline," and the links to their websites.  We invite you to "surf" around those company sites to learn more about textiles and apparel, then come back to us to consider studying at the University of Northern Iowa!

Industry Links: Fiber
Invista, a spin-off company from DuPont is one of the most sophisticated fiber/chemical companies in the world.  In fact, many of the leading synthetic fibers were invented by DuPont and are now produced by Invista.  For example, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and the specialty aramid fibers Kevlar and Nomex were all created by DuPont Scientists.  Click on the word Invista and sail onto their site.  Under the heading of "products" you can find all kinds of great information about their fiber products! invista

Cotton Incorporated represents all the cotton growers in the United States.  Since cotton is the predominant natural fiber used in textiles and apparel, it is an exceptionally important agricultural commodity.  Cotton Incorporated promotes cotton fiber and has a research program focused on improving the properties of cotton as a textile fiber.  They have a great website.  Remember to come back here...

Cotton logo

Industry Links: Primary Manufacturing

Milliken and Company is one of the largest privately owned textile manufacturers in the United States.  They are probably the most sophisticated textile manufacturer in the world. As a company they are exceptionally innovative and efficient. Considered one of the best companies in the U.S. to work for. They produce yarns and fabrics, as well as dye and finish.  Milliken and Company has a tremendous product range too, spanning from floor coverings, to fabrics for military applications, tennis ball covers, automotives, interiors, and apparel fabrics.  They also have a very informative website.


Springs Industries, Inc. is a fairly large, highly sophisticated textile manufacturer that produces fabrics and finishes them.  They are primarily involved with home furnishings.

Industry Links: Apparel Manufacturing

Liz Claiborne is one of the larger manufacturers of women's apparel in the United States.  This company is a great example of a designer driven women's wear firm that subsequently spread into accessories and menswear too.   They have a self-stated goal of being the world's preeminent designer of fashion apparel and accessories.

Liz Claiborne logo

One of the earliest manufacturers of men's ready-to-wear apparel was Levi Strauss & Co.  During the Gold Rush days in the early-middle 1800's, Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco with a consignment of French fabric called "de nime."  His intention was make tents for the miners, but instead he was inspired to produce work trousers!  Thus was the blue jean born from a fabric that would soon be referred to in its American vernacular "denim."   The fortunes of Levi Strauss & Co. have waxed and waned since then, but they remain a significant apparel manufacturer in the world today!

Levi's Logo

Carter's is one of the more recognizable children's wear apparel manufacturers in the United States.  Carter's places great value on their reputation for producing high quality children's clothing at a fair price.  Founded in 1865, Carter's is the number one children’s brand, selling over 10 products for every child born in the U.S. They have a childlike point-of-view that reflects their heritage of innovation and expertise.

Carter's Logo

Industry Links: Textile and Apparel Retailing

The Gap is a specialty retail enterprise focusing primarily on trendy sportswear.  By definition, specialty stores have a rather narrow constituency of consumers that they serve.  The Gap founder Don Fisher opened the first Gap store in 1969, on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco with a young baby boomer market in mind. The store, which sold jeans and records, was named after a cultural phenomenon that was the talk of the times: the generation gap. In 1991, Gap again focused on that earlier era with its instantly recognizable campaign, "For every generation there's a Gap."

Gap Logo

Eddie Bauer, Inc. offers distinctive clothing, accessories and home furnishings for today’s active, casual lifestyle through three retailing concepts: Eddie Bauer®, A|K|A EDDIE BAUERTM and Eddie Bauer HomeTM. In its 79-year history, Eddie Bauer has evolved from a single store in Seattle to an international company with more than 600 stores, 120 million catalogs and its website,

Eddie Bauer Logo

Macy's is one of the more well known department stores, which by definition offers a broad range of textile and apparel products to a broad spectrum of consumers.  Macy's products will include men's, women's, children's wear, accessories, cosmetics, and items for the home.  Macy's, like many department stores, is owned by a larger corporation that manages a variety of department stores anchoring shopping malls around the country.  Macy's is a member of the larger Federated Department Stores, which includes Bloomingdale's also.

Macy's Logo