Catalonia, ever since the industrial revolution, has always had an important textile sector. This background has left its mark on today’s industry thanks to a wealth of accumulated expertise and technical knowhow.
Today, with 793 companies working within the sector in Catalonia, we can identify two main groups. Firstly, the textile and fashion brands and corresponding retail system that, while accounting for 57% of companies, generate 87% of the €14,507M total industry turnover.
And, in second place, we have the productive supplier system, accounting for 43% of the remaining companies and generating 16% of total turnover. Combined, both sectors employ 63,519 workers, with 87% working in the brands and retail area.
A strong exporting sector
The sector’s significance in Catalonia is evident with 30% of Spanish exports in textile and fashion coming from Catalonia over the last decade. Furthermore, 6.6% of total Catalan exports are from the textile and fashion sector, with the main commercial partners being France, Italy, and Portugal in terms of exports and China, Bangladesh and Turkey as regards imports. Over the 2014-2018 period, outer and underwear represent the main body of exports, with 28.6% and 15.1% respectively.
Logistics capacity and specialized education degrees
One noteworthy reason for the industry’s success is not only due to Catalonia’s excellent logistics capacity, but also due to its privileged Southern European location, allowing for efficient intercontinental connections to Asia and the Americas and easy, fast distribution to Southern Europe and North Africa.
What’s more, its logistics network can reach 400M consumers in Europe and the entire Mediterranean basin in less than 48 hours. It’s not all logistics, however. Talent plays a major role, too. Catalonia has a top-notch university system with as many as six higher-education institutions having dedicated fashion and textile faculties, complemented by some 50 design schools and a significant number of major design events being held yearly in Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital.
Innovation is key in the textile and fashion industry
This creative groundswell also means that innovation is firmly a part of the textile and fashion sector. Many international companies, such as Asics with its Barcelona Innovation Hub, have chosen Catalonia and Barcelona to promote their innovation strategies due to the potential of the local design, fashion and entrepreneurship ecosystem, with more than 70 fashion and design startups currently active in Catalonia.
The innovation possibilities in Catalonia are also diverse, from investigating in wearables, exploring new logistics models for online consumers, circular economy opportunities, to new production methods such as 3D printing.