Where do Spanish fashion exports go?

The textile-garment sector can be defined as heterogeneous and diverse since it can be divided into three areas: the textile sector itself, the garment manufacturing process, and the commercial distribution process, which ends with the purchase of textile articles by end consumers. These goods can be defined from a double perspective: as basic necessities since every individual needs to have garments to wear; or as luxury goods, when it comes to the fashion sector and haute couture garments.

In 2009, the sector employed more than 1.5 million people worldwide in more than 160,000 companies, with a turnover of 162 billion euros, and consumption is expected to increase by up to 63% by 2030.

In 2009, the textile sector had a turnover of 162 billion euros and consumption is expected to increase by 63% by 2030.

Europe has always been, and wants to remain, an important focus for this sector through innovative branding, creativity, know-how, and quality products. Until 2018 the European textile industry showed a steady growth trend, but in 2019 this changed, and growth started to fall, reaching negative levels in 2020 after the outbreak of the pandemic. Due to the health situation caused by the outbreak of Covid-19, a supply crisis was triggered, logistics costs and delivery times grew exponentially, because of the measures approved by governments to curb the escalation of contagions worldwide. This crisis is still present and affecting the textile-garment sector today, but the sector's growth indicators have gradually managed to return to positive values. In September 2021, the Index of Industrial Production (IPI) for textile, clothing, and leather increased by 3.8% compared to the same month in 2020, and in October 2021 the trend continued and the sector's IPI grew by 2.8%.

The textile and clothing sector is one of the most important industrial sectors in our country in terms of the employment it generates and the added value it represents. Thanks to the more than 20,000 companies dedicated to fashion, textile, and footwear in Spain, which currently represent 2.4% of Spanish GDP, the country is currently competing with traditional giants such as Italy and Germany for European leadership in the sector.

Despite these positive data, the sector is currently facing a period of great uncertainty. The financial crisis that began in 2008 greatly affected the textile and fashion sector, as it is highly linked to the consumption capacity of society. After the first years of the crisis, when it seemed that the industry was beginning to recover and the numbers were growing again, at a slow pace, the Covid-19 pandemic appeared and hit hard. The sector lost, in just one year, four-tenths in its contribution to GDP, from 2.8% in 2019 to 2.4% in 2020. But, we cannot simply focus on these negative data, because despite all the difficulties, the sector has shown great adaptability, and the Spanish enterprises are regaining their prominence in Europe. Exports have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, foreign sales, including clothing, textiles, footwear, accessories, jewelry, and costume jewelry, recorded an increase of more than 4% compared to 2019. With respect to 2020, the sector's exports exceeded 27 billion euros, growing by 27.6%. The United States and Poland have been the major drivers of growth in Spanish fashion exports in the first quarter of 2021.  

To address the current situation of the sector in Spain, an observatory has been created, made up of the main organizations and players in the Spanish textile sector, which is shaping a comprehensive project for the transformation of the sector based on digitalization and sustainability. To this end, it will work on the search for technological solutions for it, sectoral traceability at a national level, and the adoption of cleaner and more efficient production processes. Consumers demand a respectful performance with the planet, and the sector is already working on it.


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