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  • Apparel Market Trends

    Exporting apparel to Europe

    Europe offers opportunities for exporters of garments and apparel. On this page you'll find information to help you get your garments or apparel products on the European market.

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    Which trends offers opportunities or pose threats on the European apparel market?

    Multiple trends influence the European apparel market. The main trend currently is sustainability, connected with corporate social responsibility and transparency. The second major current trend is the influence of technology on production processes, sales and the relationships between buyers, suppliers and consumers. Although some trends pose threats, others if properly explored could generate big opportunities for developing country exporters.

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    Promising Export Products

    Exporting sustainable apparel to Europe

    Europe is a key market for sustainable apparel. There is widespread concern in Europe about environmental issues and a general belief in the value of more sustainable lifestyles. Consumers expect fashion businesses to be responsible regarding social and environmental issues. Important trends in the European sustainable apparel market include consumer education, fashion sharing, vegan clothing, transparency, standardisation and natural dyes.

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    The European market potential for babywear

    Babywear is a €4.0 billion market in Europe, with France, Germany and the UK being the biggest local importers. In the past 5 years, the market has grown on average at 5.3% per year, stagnating in the last two years. It is expected that the market will continue to stagnate for the next couple of years, after which it is expected to grow. The segment already imports a large share from the developing countries, and the growth of those imports is further fueled by the growing costs of import from China. Producers from developing countries can capitalise on this shift and develop a strong Babywear offering.

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    The European market potential for bodywear

    The value of European bodywear imports is estimated at €14.6 billion, making it a relatively large apparel subsegment. Women’s Underwear accounts for over 43% of this market, followed by Hosiery at 33% and Men’s Underwear at 15%. Homewear and Nightwear is the smallest category with almost 9% share. Bodywear imports have been growing on average by 4.5% each year, driven by the growth of the Men’s Underwear and Homewear categories. The biggest markets include Germany, France, and the UK, while France and Spain have the highest average import prices.

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    Childrenswear in Europe

    Childrenswear and babywear are outperforming the overall apparel market in Europe, presenting exciting opportunities for exporters from developing countries. The childrenswear market is the fastest-growing and one of the most lucrative markets in the garment industry, with department stores and supermarkets giving it more and more floor space. The Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and eastern Europe offer the most potential, thanks to growing birth rates and/or increasing spending per child.

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    The European market potential for dresses and skirts

    The value of the European dresses and skirts import market is estimated at €13.6 billion, making it a large apparel subsegment. The dresses product segment accounts for 81.3% of this market, while the skirts segment accounts for 18.7%.

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    What are the opportunities for outerwear apparel in the European market?

    The European outerwear market is growing. Outerwear clothing items have more ‘wears per item’ than most other clothing pieces. This makes quality very important. If you can make the right combination of functionality and fashion, you have good opportunities to explore in the European market. Focusing on specific segments such as high fashion, sportswear or sustainable clothing can also give you a competitive edge.

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    The European market potential for pants

    The value of the European pants import market is estimated at €35.6 billion, making it a strong apparel subsegment. Men’s and women’s pants products account for very similar numbers, making both segments potentially interesting for pants manufacturers.

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    Exporting shapewear to Europe

    Europe’s shapewear market continues to grow thanks to technical innovation and sociocultural factors such as the growing participation in sports and the increased attention consumers pay to their physical appearance. Relevant non-European suppliers include Colombia, China and some North African countries. The leading consumers of shapewear in Europe are aged between 25 and 54, followed by those aged 65-plus.

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    The European market potential for sportswear

    Europe’s sportswear imports are valued at €19.5 billion and show one of the strongest growth rates among all apparel subsegments with 10.1% per year. Sportswear is growing strongly in Europe because of the social trend towards healthier and more active lifestyles among all age groups, as well as increasing popularity of sportswear worn as casualwear in Europe. Fashion Sportswear is the biggest category in the Sportswear segment accounting for approx. 70 to 75% of its total value, followed by Active Sportswear and Swimwear. The biggest import markets include Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

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    The European market potential for swimwear

    The value of the European swimwear imports is estimated at €2.1 billion, making it an overall smaller apparel subsegment than other clothing categories. Women’s and girls’ swimwear imports account for 76.2% of this market, while men’s and boys’ swimwear items account for the remaining 23.8% share of the market.

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    The European market potential for workwear

    The Industrial and Occupational Workwear market is worth approx. €2.9 billion in Europe and it is split between Men’s Workwear, which accounts for up to 85% of the value, and Women’s Workwear, which covers the remaining 15%. The market is growing at an average rate of 7.5% each year. The biggest local importers include Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. The biggest trends in this market include the development of more versatile and wearable pieces, driven by innovations in fibres and technology.

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