Looking at the recent publications on the textiles field, it’s quite common to find the word global, variously associated with this ambit. The necessity of reframing the textiles studies within a global dimension and worldwide systems seems to follow not only the more general tendency of the present critical thought to adopt exactly a global and transcultural perspective, but seems to be dictated by the peculiar nature of the textile medium. Historically and particularly since the Early Modern Age, in fact, the textiles could be regarded as the global medium par excellence.
In the Early Modern period global was first at all the system of production: from the supply of the raw materials to the development of technical skills, without considering the genesis of the patterns, nearly each local manufacture was to be read within a wider scenario, made of contacts, migrations and exchanges with other realities and charged with manifold reciprocal interdependences. At the same time, global was the dimension of the textiles trades. Although since the Pre-modern world different actors were involved in intercultural and supranational relationships and some fabric productions conceived for export were already traceable, from the beginning of the Modern Age the exchanges’ net achieved progressively a real integrated worldwide scale, which in turn orientated manufactures and consumptions. Besides we can consider as global the diffusion of some cultural phenomena related to the textiles’ world, to their wide circulation and their forms of use, such as the tendency to invest them with particular semantic contents and to adopt them in specific social practices, or the rise of the fashion and the taste for the exotic and what is other from itself.
Playing on words, even the textiles as an inquiry field could be regarded as global: their perspectives of research are in fact manifold and tangled, including economical, artistic, technological, political, social and cultural questions, so that an interdisciplinary approach could be often the best methodological key to understand them; through the textile medium it becomes also possible to explore more articulated human phenomena.