China is home to the largest textile production industry in the world. It is also home to the largest textile export industry in the world. The Chinese textile industry is therefore a key player in the national economy, the international markets, and the global economy as a whole. Even though recent market decreases have occurred, from 2008-2011, steady increases allowed the industry to see growth levels of 6% or higher each year.
Even though Europe sets quota limits on textiles that are imported from China, about EUR 7.3 billion per quarter still reaches the market. Total exports for the industry are valued at more than $30 billion per quarter on the average year.
Despite sharp falls in imports, the growth rate in the U.S. for Chinese textiles was still 9.7%. In some years, growth rates have been higher than 40%.
Important China Textile Industry Statistics
#1. Over 4.5 billion meters of clothing is produced by the China textile industry each month. (Statista)
#2. China’s market share by value of the global textile market fell to 35.8% in 2016 from the 38.6% market share that was achieved in 2015. (South China Morning Post)
#3. Since 2014, the export of Chinese textiles and clothing has dropped more than $30 billion in total value, from $236 billion to $206 billion in 2016. (South China Morning Post)
#4. Customs data from the China textile industry shows that the export of clothing and accessories fell by 0.4% in 2017, even though textile exports saw an overall growth rate of 4.5%. (South China Morning Post)
#5. Labor costs for the textile industry in China have been steadily increasing, reaching a record level of $336 per month in Shenzhen. That is double what other textile workers make in other countries in Southeast Asia. (South China Morning Post)
#6. For the first time in history, a survey of 34 fashion company executives in the United States indicated that fewer brands were looking for products that were manufactured in China. (South China Morning Post)
#7. For many U.S.-based brands which used to focus primarily on China textiles, one-third of their products now come from the industry. Another third comes from Vietnam. (South China Morning Post)
#8. From 2005 to 2015, the value of Bangladesh imports from China rose from 39% to 47%. Similar trends have been seen in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. (South China Morning Post)
#9. Enterprises which focus on Chinese apparel are reasonably profitable for the industry, seeing profit growth in 2017 of 17%. (Fibre2Fashion)
#10. China’s internal policies on purchasing cotton from the local industry led to a stockpile surplus of 11 million tons by late 2013. That caused the price per ton of cotton on the global market to rise by as much as RMB 5,700. (Fibre2Fashion)
#11. The Chinese textile industry provides 7.1% of the GDP each year, thanks to an installed generating capacity of 1.24 billion kilowatts. (Fibre2Fashion)
#12. The adult garment market in China has a value of RMB 1.45 trillion in 2017, which was a 5.2% increase from the year before. The women’s garment market is responsible for RMB 923 billion, which is an increase of 5.7%. (HKDTC Research)
#13. The mainland children’s garment market for the China textile industry is valued at RMB 179 billion. Baby garments showed the most potential for growth, sporting a 17.2% increase in 2017 from the year before. In total, there are an estimated 250 million children under the age of 15 in China. (HKDTC Research)
#14. The Chinese sportswear industry grew by 12.5% in 2017, achieving revenues within the segment of RMB 212 billion. Domestic brands dominate this market domestically, especially in the lower-tier cities. (HKDTC Research)
#15. The import value of men’s overcoats, jackets, and similar articles was $32.6 million in 2017, which reflected growth of 7.9% within the segment. (HKDTC Research)
#16. Although most textile sectors saw growth for the industry, some saw steep declines in import value. Ski suits, track suits, and similar items saw a decrease of 20% in 2017. Men’s suits saw a decline of 2.1%, while men’s underwear declined by 27%. (HKDTC Research)
#17. The biggest segment winner for the China textile market was knitted or crocheted fabrics, laminated plastics, and rubberized fabrics. Although the import value was $4.8 million, that was an increase of 57.6%. (HKDTC Research)
#18. Women’s underwear performed extremely well in 2017 for the industry, achieving $68.5 million in value with a 37.7% increase from the year before. (HKDTC Research)
#19. The segment with the most import value for the textile industry in China included women’s suits, blazers, dresses, skirts, and other general clothing other than swimwear. Almost $900 million in import value was achieved. (HKDTC Research)
#20. Garment sales in department stores account for 37% of the industry sales for the industry in 2012, but it only accounted for 22% of sales in 2017. At the same time, the market share of online sales rose from 7.5% to 29%. (HKDTC Research)
#21. In 2013, China exported $274 billion worth of textiles. That was over 43% of the total global exports. That figure was so dominant, in fact, that the second-largest importer, India, achieved $40 billion in total value. (Times of India)
China Textile Industry Trends and Analysis
China’s role as the #1 provider of textiles and garments is undisputed. That is not going to change any time in the near future.
What is going to change is the influence disruptors have on the global textile industry. Others in Southeast Asia, most notably Bangladesh, are gaining a market share of the global industry because their labor costs are much lower than China – a shift that is recent.
Wages for workers in China have doubled, and sometimes tripled, from what the industry was paying just 20 years ago. That has led to higher costs in the export market, which has caused consumer shifts.
Caps on imports from China have affected the industry in negative ways as well. Although the U.S. continues to lead in total purchases, North America and Europe are taking measures to protect local companies from a dump of cheap textiles on their domestic market. That has caused shifts in pricing and structure for the industry as well.
Shifts in consumer preference promote new opportunities for the China textile market. The demand for designer brands, labels, and limited-edition fashion offer new chances for the industry to find success. It will take some time to adapt to this changing market, but it is going to happen and the industry will continue growing because of it.