Cotton was already known in Central America around 5800 B.C. and known in China and India around 3000 B.C..
It wasn’t until around 800 AD that Arabian merchants brought cotton to Europe. Not until 600 years later, in the 14th century was cotton processed in southern Germany.
Initially cotton was maily spun into linen in Augsburg and Ulm. Arabs had made cotton common in Sicily and Spain a hundred years earlier.
Up until the 17th century Augsburg led the industrial mass production, after that it was the Flemish and English cotton industry.
New inventions like e.g. the spinning jenny in 1764 and the power loom in 1784 greatly increased production.
Even today, when competing against numerous synthetic fibers, cotton is still covering about 44% of the world’s need for textile fibers.
Between 1969 and today the total production of raw cotton has almost doubled, even though the cultivated area has only grown slightly. This enormous rise in productivity stems from an increased crop yield per acre.
After polyester fibers pushed cotton’s share of the total fiber market down to 34% in the wake of a price war in the early 70s, cotton fibers were able to rebound to a 50% market share in the early 90s.
Due to a general trend towards natural fiber products cotton improved its market position even further for home textiles and outerwear.