The First World War brought the heyday of embroidery in eastern Switzerland to an end and the industry became less significant.
Manufacturing and trading in textiles has had a significant influence on eastern Switzerland – and vice versa. Thanks to their innovative strength, creativity and precision, many companies in eastern Switzerland still rank among the world’s leading suppliers in the sector – from Haute Couture and exquisite fabrics to medical technology and textile applications in architecture.
Long before the city became famous for its exquisite embroidery in the 19th century, St. Gallen merchants had successfully traded in linen from eastern Switzerland throughout Europe. In the Middle Ages and in early modern times, the textile industry was the key economic driver in eastern Switzerland. For centuries, thousands of families and worker lived by manufacturing and trading in textiles. The linen industry flourished until the early 18th century, when it was replaced by the production of cotton fabrics. With the invention of the hand embroidery machine, embroidery replaced the cotton industry around 1850.
Today, textile know-how influences development in other areas as well, e.g. in plastics, filter or conductor technology, and St. Gallen embroidery in particular is still regarded as a world leader.