Branded clothing: global value chains for global benefits

Branded clothing and apparel are produced in a truly global value chain, from initial design to manufacturing and sales. Setting the creative direction, design, market research and preparation, production planning and logistics happen in the EU, while the manufacturing takes place in Asia, but also Northern Africa, Middle East, and Europe.

Approximately 80-85 percent of the value of a clothing piece sold in the EU is created in the EU generating salaries, investments, and tax revenue for the EU economy. In total, the branded clothing sector supports at least 4.4 million jobs in the EU and contributes directly with 1 percent of the EU’s GDP. Branded clothing leads to job creation and capital investments in the manufacturing countries as well.

There is a strong correlation between trade and economic growth. As an example, in Bangladesh, exports as a share of GDP has increased since the early 1990s and poverty rates have decreased. Beyond economic growth the branded clothing firms contribute to sustainable growth through a number of social and sustainability initiatives they organise and participate in. The EU should continue to work to remove tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, simplify Rules of Origin; work on sustainable FTAs and support the multilateral trading system. The branded clothing sector is committed to the highest sustainability standards through-out the value chain – free and fair global trade is essential to realise those benefits to the fullest.

The study is commissioned by The European Branded Clothing Alliance.