The Most Common Fibres & Fabrics Used For Clothing & Textiles

When getting a good idea of how any industry operates – it’s a good idea to start from the top and work down.

For fibres, fabrics and the clothing/fashion industries, knowing the most commonly used materials means you can get an idea of where to start looking for problems and solutions in these industries.

Below are some figures and stats on the most commonly used, produced and consumed fibres and fabrics.


Summary – Most Commonly Produced & Consumed Fibres & Fabrics 

Synthetic fibre production by far outweighs natural fibre production right now, and that trend is expected to continue into the future.

Polyester (a synthetic fibre) is the most commonly produced/consumer fibre, followed by cotton.

Cellulosic fibre production (natural fibres from plants) has been growing in in volume and market share in the recent years.

Despite this growth, future projections for fibre production by 2030 still have polyester far outweighing cotton.

Some countries consume far more fibre per capita than others – wealthy and developed countries usually consume the most … although there are some new countries starting to consume more fibres per capita as global wealth expands.

Despite the awareness growing for some new more ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco friendly’ fibres, these fibres make up an incredibly small % of the market, compared to what might be less sustainable fibres and fabrics.

Factors like cost, the ability to grow and produce at scale, and establishing long term supply agreement with major brands, can all contribute to this (along with other factors)


Stats On Fibre Production & Consumption, & Most Common Fibres/Fabrics (By Type)

In 2015, the global mill consumption of fibres was:

Polyester – 55%

Cotton – 27%

Cellulosic Fibres – 7%

Polypropylene – 4%

Nylon – 5%

Acrylics – 2%

Wool – 1%



In 2017, the distribution of fiber consumption worldwide, by type of fibre, was:

64.2% synthetic fibres

24.1% cotton

6.2% wool based fibres

4.4% other natural fibres

1.1% wool fibres



In 2010, the global textile industry’s use (referred to as ‘consumption’) of synthetic non cellulosic fibres, cellulosic fibres (including viscose) and natural fibres was:

69,728,000 (69.7 million) total tonnes

Most of that was synthetic non cellulosic fibres, followed by cotton 

Cellulosic, wool and flax make up a very small % too (after synthetic and cotton fibres)



In 2013, the world apparel fibre consumption was:

About one third natural fibres (mainly cotton), and two thirds synthetics (polyester, nylon, acrylic)



In 2018:

The world fiber market arrived at 103 million tonnes

Natural fibers grew almost 3% which was the fastest pace in eight years.



In 2017, global chemical fiber production by fiber type was:

64.9 million metric tons of synthetic fibres produced

6.7 million metric tons of cellulose fibres produced



In 2016:

The market for staple fibers was at 55 million tons (natural fibers 30 million, synthetic fibers 19 million, and cellulosic fibers 6 million)

The market for nonwovens and unspun applications was at 16 million tons

The market for manmade fibers was at 71 million tons



In 2014:

… the Cotton Board estimated global production of TENCEL at just 243,000 tons  – compared to 28.6 million for cotton



There’s also the consideration that synthetic fibres are the most commonly used fibres in the textile industry at roughly 63 per cent of the material input for textiles production worldwide – with polyester (55 per cent), followed by nylon (five per cent), and acrylic (two per cent) (

In the US, cotton’s competitive share of U.S. produced textile end-uses shows a steady increase, presently standing at approximately 34% (


Forecast For Fibre Demand (Made Made & Natural) In The Future

By 2030, fibre demand is forecasted to be:

Close to 70 million tons for polyester

Just over 30 million tons for cotton

Around 10 million tons for cellulosic fibres

Around 5 million tons for polyprop, and nylon

Around 1 to 2 million tons for wool, and acrylic



Countries That Consume The Most Textiles

There are 12 high income countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.

Their joint share in global textile consumption was 36% in 2005 – 13% of world population consumed more than a third of textiles.

This share has substantially lost weight over time to account for 25% in 2016.
















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