Exploring the Garment Industry in China


Garments are one of the most important industries in the world with China being the leader in the market. Over the past few years, the garment industry has expanded in terms of markets as well as the products catered to the end users. Following this trend, China has also expanded on its core competencies and capabilities to further develop the garment industry it has. Despite all the ups and downs, the majority of the world’s garment manufacturing takes place in China. Find out more about the garment industry in China below.

Overview of Garment Industry in China

As per the latest statistics, the garment industry in China has crossed $328 billion and accounts for more than 39% of the world’s garment production. However, even with this high percentage, an increase is further expected. Between 2022 and 2026, the Cumulative Average Growth Rate of the Garment Industry in China is going to be 4.43% per annum which is quite high and indicates a stronger position for China in the near future.

The garment industry within China is dominated by women’s garments with a volume of more than $172.2 billion in 2022. In the month of June 2022, China saw a clothing fabric production of over 3.38 billion meters. According to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics in China, over 25 billion garments were produced in China in the recent year. Ideally, this shows how strongly China has dominated the local market as well as has a strong grip on the International market as well. It is recognized among the top garment manufacturing countries of the world.

Few of the top textile companies in China include Lu Thai Textile Co Ltd, Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn Co Ltd, Weiqiao Textile Co Ltd, Yotex Apparel, D&J Garments, Doven Garments, Shijiazhuang Changshan Textile Co Ltd, Jiangsu Sunshine Co Ltd, and Huafang Textile Co Ltd. The most common garment products manufactured in China include T-shirts, Jackets and Coats, Sportswear, Jeans, Kids’ garments, and Baby garments.

The Garment Industry in China – SubSectors

The garment industry in China can be segregated into three main categories namely men’s garments, women’s garments, and children’s garments.

Women Garment Market in China

Women garments

The most important sector of China’s garment industry is women’s garments which account for more than 53.8% of garment production. According to research by Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the women’s garment section is increasing year by year. The major trend is seen in the case of the high-end women’s garment sector which accounts for 23% of the women’s garment industry in China.

Some of the most important reasons for this include increased peer pressure to follow the latest fashion trends, a rise in the level of education leading to better income, overall increased household incomes, and the social trend of following western clothing [2]. Research shows that women are more oriented towards stylish clothing of good quality. They are also focused on getting the best accessories for women’s garments. According to one report, the sales value of women’s wear can increase up to 1.23 trillion yuan or $0.18 trillion . This means a steady growth rate of 4% is expected in the case of women’s wear in China.

Studies show that the women’s garment market is a major focus by the retailers because of the high volume of purchases and frequent purchases by women. Women are not only wearing trendy clothes but also focused on sustainable clothing as well as clothing manufactured by domestic brands. This is because of the famous “GuoChao” trend in China which encourages the consumers to focus on domestic brands and mix up their cultures.

Men Garment Market in China

Men’s garments form the second most important sector in the garment industry of China. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council suggested that the market has grown by a 6.8% per annum compound rate in the last 10 years. As of 2020, the revenue of men’s garments in China was RMB590.9 billion which is equal to $87.39, and passed the market of the USA as well. Men’s garments account for 23% of the total garment market in China.

As far as the trends for men’s shopping are concerned, studies show that men in China are not that interested in fancy clothing. The total luxury clothing products including men and women account for only 2% in China which means 98% are fine with regular clothing [1]. Men in China do not spend much time purchasing a particular dress and buy anything that seems fit right away. They are not much interested in following fashion trends on a large scale. However, one report suggested that jackets could soon become the best-selling men’s garment in China [1]. In addition to that, sportswear is also going to have a major role in men’s fashion in the future.

Children’s Garment Market in China

Last and the smallest sector in the garment industry of China is Children’s Garments. The children’s garments are on a constant rise in terms of overall market share yet account for a very small percentage. This is because of the tight policies applied in China regarding population and birth control which has reduced the country’s birth rate for the past many years. Due to such regulations, the market for children’s garments is quite unstable which is why not many manufacturers or producers have invested in this sector. The market share of children’s garments out of total garment production is 22%.

However, it is expected that in the future, the children’s garment market is going to increase further. As of 2020, the sales revenue from children’s garments amounted to $33.92 billion and in 2025, this is predicted to increase to $70.18 billion which is about a 105% increase from the current value. The main reason for this can be the “14th Five-Year Plan” announced by the Government of China.

Another important reason for the growth of the children’s garment market in China is because there is a high demand from foreign countries. As the global garment market for children is rising, retailers are seeking manufacturing from Chinese producers.

Children’s Garment Market in China

China’s Garment Industry Trade Statistics

China is the largest exporter of garments in the world with $315.5 billion in exports in 2021. However, with other countries focusing on quality as well as China’s aim to focus on the domestic market for growth, the future of Chinese exports is quite uncertain. There are some other reasons for this as well. China has been facing several international trade disputes with countries such as the USA. In addition to that, countries such as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are increasing their garment manufacturing at a cost closer to what China is producing, which poses a minor threat to the garment industry of China.

Why is China the Market Leader in the Garment Industry?

The garment industry in China has been on a consistent rise because the country has an ample population leading to the mass availability of unskilled and unemployed workforce which results in lower wage rates and thereby a lower cost of production as well.

Cheap Labor

The hourly wage rate in China ranges from $3 to $7 while it ranges from $8 to $12 at minimum in developed countries such as the USA. This implies the fact that the cost of production of garments in China is half as compared to developed countries such as the USA. China is a country with a population of 1.41 billion. The massive population of China helps in keeping the wage rate low. There are a large number of unskilled workers in the country. The industry employment in the garment industry in China is more than 4.4 million. For this reason, a good majority of US-garment retailers have their production set up in China to benefit from lower worker costs.

High Volume of Production

This leads us to the second most important reason why China is the market leader in the garment industry. As China is able to produce garments at a cheap cost, manufacturers and retailers from other countries also outsource their orders to China. The volume of production is high which leads to mass production economies of scale as well. With the volume of production being high, the factories are running beyond 85% capacity at all times which brings a lower fixed cost of production per unit for the garments.

Moreover, due to the mass purchase of raw materials such as cotton bales, the per unit cost is reduced due to bulk-buying economies of scale. According to one report, there are more than 93,000 businesses in China in the garment industry with many of them having sub-branches and franchises.

High Availability of Raw Material

Another reason why China is the biggest producer of garments is because of the ample availability of resources. China has large areas of farmland available and a good proportion of the population is involved in the agriculture sector. As of 2021, China was able to produce 5.73 million metric tons of cotton while the USA produced 3.8 million metric tons of cotton. However, a key difference in both is the cost of producing cotton which was high in the USA and low in China. One of the important reasons for this is the depreciated currency value of the Chinese Rumble and a highly inflated currency value of the US dollar.

High Availability of Raw Material

Focus on Quality

There was a time when Chinese products were considered to be of substandard quality. While this statement is true to an extent even today, China is focusing on creating better working mechanisms, improved technology, and various other factors to improve the quality of the products. One of the main reasons for this development is because China has seen a reduced share in the total exports over the past few years, although still being at the top. According to one report, China had a market share of 38% and could drop down to approximately 30%. This means that other retailers are somehow taking over the market share of China to an extent.

However, as the majority of the world is focused on non-luxury clothing products, even if China does not focus on quality, it will stand as one of the leading garment producers in the world.

Future of China’s Garment Industry

There are certain measures taken by the Government of China as well as the market for garments that provides different insights into the future of China’s garment industry.

  • China is not going to intensely focus on exports to grow the garment market. Instead, it will be focused on the domestic market to ensure constant growth. The culture of “GauChao” is promoted which encourages the people to promote and develop the local brands instead of foreign ones. Brands are also encouraged to fulfill the local demand and promote their products. Forecasts show that the domestic market could account for $415 billion by 2025.
  • China is no longer going to apply certain strategies or fight for growth in the textile, apparel, and garment sector. The main reason for this can be the already well-established position of the country in the garments market. China no longer needs to promote itself as it has already emerged as the leading garment manufacturer. However, it is important to regard that China does not believe that it will cut down on production either.
  • China is planning to focus on sustainable and greener practices for the textile industry. Experts have evaluated that a large number of resources are being utilized by the garment industry.  A key goal in sustainability practices is to reduce CO2 emissions. This is also essential because China has a high population. In order to save those resources, the country needs to focus on sustainable practices such as generating electricity from solar energy, using plant fibers, natural leather, and other such initiatives as well. Additionally, this will help China in balancing the cost of production to the current point with regard to the inflationary push.
  • Live streaming garment sales are going to be an important business model in the Chinese garment industry in the future. With the arrival of social media networks, newer business models are appearing. One report concluded that as of March 2020, there were 265 million live stream shoppers which provides a huge market to the retailers. Clothing was the most popular product sold in live streams.


China is the largest garment manufacturing country and exporting country in the world. Although there are certain challenges for China in the garment industry, it is constantly focused on improving and overcoming those challenges. However, in the long term, some of the important factors to be considered by China for the garment market include quality focus, sustainability, adaptability to technology, and diversity as well.

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