Cheap Fabrics has been proudly selling fabrics to citizens of the United Kingdom for over fifty years. As a family business, our passion for the textile industry has positioned us as a well-established and reputable fabric shop.
Unlike many other online retail stores, we do more than sell fabrics. We like to assist you and point you in the right direction by giving you helpful advice and handy tips. With new products hitting our site weekly, we aim to stay ahead of our competition.
We supply an extensive range of fabrics across the United Kingdom, however, we wanted to drill down deeper to analyse popularity trends across the four UK countries.
We wanted to know:
- Do some countries have a greater affinity to certain fabrics?
- How much more likely are people from the bitterly cold Scotland to buy warm fabrics, such as fleece?
- What about polycotton fabric? As one of the best materials for making a face mask, is this fabric more popular in some countries?
Let’s explore our data from 2020 and visualise it in a way that will help to answer these questions.
We analysed fabric order data from 2020 and segregated it by fabric type and UK country. Any type of fabrics that did not have enough data were left out of our study.
From this, we transformed the data to a one-scaled metric (as used in the visualisation below) to easily compare the popularity of fabric across each country.
The ‘one-scale’ value
What does the ‘one-scale’ metric represent? The country which is most popular for that fabric type is scaled to 1, while all the other countries are scaled accordingly to a decimal between 0 and 1.
Let’s take a look at the results for linen fabric:
Wales is the most popular country for linen fabric, represented by the value of 1. Northern Ireland is the least popular for linen with a value of 0.36.
This means that for every person in Wales that purchases an item of linen fabric, 0.36 people in Northern Ireland will purchase linen. Therefore, linen fabric is almost three times as popular in Wales than it is in Northern Ireland!
Explore the full data below:
Looking at the map, it appears that we can answer our question as to whether fleece is more popular in colder countries. The value for fleece fabric in Scotland is 0.71 and just 0.37 in England, indicating that people in Scotland are almost twice as likely to purchase fleece fabric than people in England. This would make sense as fleece is most commonly used to make warm clothing.
Have you found any interesting or suprising results after looking at the map? We’d love to hear your findings, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Brief History of Fabrics in Britain
Fabric production in Britain and the UK has quite a colourful history. For a long time, Britain dominated the textile industry, with exports reaching worldwide. Check out our noteworthy facts about the history of fabrics.
- During the Medieval period, there was a growing demand for raw wool, a material used to make cloth. A combination of ample sheep farms and favourable weather meant England and Scotland were ideal places for the wool trade to flourish. In England in particular raw wool was a driving force of the economy between the late thirteen and late fifteenth century. Whilst there wasn’t yet a big trade in fabric in the country, fabric manufacturers abroad loved using English wool.
- To capitalize on the success of wool exports, the English monarchy taxed the wool trade quite heavily. This ultimately damaged the wool export trade and led to more fabrics and cloths being produced in England. This was helped by the arrival of Flemish and French immigrants fleeing French rule. With them, they brought the fabric trade and art of weaving.
- By the fifteenth century, fine cloth was being produced and sold at markets across the country. Enough fabric was being produced in England to not only support the needs of the citizens but to enable product to be sold abroad.
- The textile industry continued to flourish and provide areas with financial success, such as Leeds. The city was built on the production of fabrics. The accompanying growth of transportation capabilities also extended the reach of fabric produced in the city. Fabric markets were held twice a week and people travelled from across the country to visit.
- In the eighteenth century, we saw the emergence of small-scale manufacturing in local villages and towns. Technological restrictions meant fabric production was on a small scale and cottage-based. The industry was able to provide employment opportunities as it was dependent on skilled workers.
- More fabrics start to be imported from countries such as India and South America. To protect Britain’s own textile industry, two Calico Acts are passed in 1700 and 1721. They banned the import of cotton textiles into England. This was followed by the restrictions of selling textile materials.
- In the latter half of the eighteenth century, the textile industry started to be mechanized. Production became less wide-spread and the workforce operated in one place. The machinery was housed in water-powered buildings such as Mills. This development had an impact on employment, skills previously provided by workers were now actioned on a bigger scale by machines. Integrating machines into the production model, however, meant a wider variety of fabrics could be produced. Up to this point, production had mainly focused on cotton-linen materials.
- During the nineteenth century, the textile industry was at the forefront of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Advancements in machinery meant fabric production grew to a much higher scale. The industry could produce larger amounts of silks and cottons to then be exported across the globe. See an advertisement from the period below, offering the very best dress fabrics for fashionable ladies and gentlemen.
- At the start of the twentieth century, Britain had a strong hold over the industry, but this wanes throughout the century. As other nations start to compete within the industry and many companies turn to outsourcing, Britain loses its top spot in the textile industry.