Apparel Industry was one of the first globally operating industries. Already in the early 1970ies did European fashion companies extend their manufacturing workbenches into lower cost neighbouring countries, making it one of the first industries to have a globally distributed network. In the first decade of the 21st century, the conditions for clothes manufacturing has changed considerably. The Sourcing Share of Asia increased dramatically especially since Chinas participation in the WTO in 2005 which led to the abolition of quotas. India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Philippines also play a major role in the Asian Textile and Garment Market.
But even so, West Europe, the Mediterranean Rim and the East European Countries still play an important role on the global textile and apparel market, maybe no longer from the volume perspective but in terms of variety, complexity and product quality, particularly for the more demanding markets. Latin America has seen a significant decline over the last decade but is developing similar strategies like Europe to compete through quality and specialty niche rather than volume. Does this mean that the West European Apparel Industry is dead? The European Textile and Garment industry has undergone a severe decline since 1970 which nearly made it extinct in some of the EU founding economies. The labour intensive manufacturing segment which is almost not existent in Western Europe today particularly suffered. The only uncritical area where specifically one country in Western Europe is still defending its share, possibly due to changed sourcing practices and a recently increased presence on the global marketplace is the textile sector in Italy, which has even seen a rise in both volumes and employees over the last decade.
Originally published in: New Cloth Market, August-2010