Textiles and Worldwide Trade lecture
Visiting Indian and Asian artefacts at The V&A
Without the trade relationship between Britain and India, our industry as we know it would cease to exist.
Starting in the 1600's, Europe wanted to trade with India to then sell back to Africa,
almost as middle men for textiles which were seen as luxury goods.
As quoted from the 400AD Catholic Bible;
'The finest gold will not be paid for it,
nor will silver be weighed in exchange for it.
It will not be compared with the dyed colours of india…'
Things that made India's textiles more desirable to the western world were that their cotton and muslin was finer and their cashmere was softer due to the different climates.
India invented unique patterns and dyeing techniques hundreds of years before the western world such as printed cotton 'chintz' (Chintz meaning spotted print) which could be washed unlike european printed fabrics.
For those that could afford it, this was an important step in textile technology,
as western printed fabrics were usually unwashable.
This white Indian linen dress taken from the V&A's archive would be seen as very luxurious due to clothes only being washed once every season.
In the 1800s neoclassical style clothing and interiors based on ancient greece were very fashionable.
By the 1700s Indian chintz print was banned in this country to protect local industry, and by 1742 a china blue print method had been developed in England.
Britain began copying and taking over the global textile industry from India, by the 1800s we were a major importer over India of printed cloth.
British government took on India as part of our empire, a hundred years later India took back their independence by which time our Industrial Revolution had severely affected their textile market.