Apparel prices in most nations actually fell, on an inflation-adjusted basis, for several years. Globalization, highly efficient supply chains in Asia and huge numbers of factories throughout China and Southeast Asia that competed fiercely for manufacturing contracts drove down prices overall. That trend is now over.
China enjoyed a 37.8% market share of global apparel exports in 2012, at $160 billion, up from a mere $8.9 billion in 1990. Now, however, Chinese manufacturers face increasing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers. Wages have risen dramatically as a result. At the same time, as demand for employees has risen, workers have been calling for better working conditions. In fact, apparel and textile workers in many parts of the world are beginning to demand shorter hours and safer working environments. The collapse of a multi-story apparel factory in Bangladesh in 2013, killing more than 1,100 workers, immediately resulted in a global focus on workers’ rights and working conditions in the apparel manufacturing sector. The net effect is going to be steadily rising costs for manufacturers and increasingly higher retail prices for consumers.
Competition from manufacturers based in lower cost nations such as Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Pakistan is intense, and a large portion of apparel manufacturing formerly done in China is moving to these areas at a rapid pace. China’s industrial base is evolving towards higher value manufacturing, such as aerospace, medical technology and telecommunications equipment.
For the latest data and statistics on the global apparel business, see
Our new Plunkett’s Apparel & Textiles Industry Almanac 2014 is your key understanding to this massive, evolving industry.
Plunkett’s Apparel, Textiles & Fashions Industry Almanac 2014 Edition
Print ISBN: 978-1-60879-734-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-60879-994-7
Published Date: June 2014