Pakistan & Gulf Economist

Bright prospect for fashion and apparel industry in South Asia

The fashion industry in Pakistan is witnessing fast growth and youth which comprise about 32 percent of Pakistan’s population appear to be speedily seeking the favor. There are numerous luxurious fashion brands in the country and their annual sales volume runs in billions of rupees. In an exceedingly competitive market, these brands try to come up with the most creative designs. These brands are focusing the youth and meeting their demands. Brand consciousness among the people, is increasing rapidly. Television and social media are playing a substantial role in changing the mindsets of the youth. Fashion shows are also major contributors in changing the mindset of the youth. Youth is conscious about brands because they think that they look attractive and more elegant in trademark.

A fashion product is showing drive and multifariousness in Pakistan. Most of the sales of branded clothing taking place through franchises that have bought the right to sell these products to consumers while the online sale of the clothes is also gaining grounds; mostly youth prefers to buy online products.

The textile industry may be suffering because of energy crisis, yet cloth manufacturers are aggressively targeting the emerging middle class and the youth. The vast section of the middle class can afford to buy fuels but seek demand for these branded clothes.

By end of February 2015, fashion industry attracted some 28.106 million fans on Facebook. Innumerable billboards displaying latest designer collection and the splendid models increase the overall appeal of the brand.

Poor working class wear branded clothes so that they seem to be more decent, and their impression on other people must be good. People are not just following but also they want to compete with each other that they wear the best and the most popular brand from others.

The fundamental cause of the trend seems to be eagerness by middle class to be willing to pay higher prices for what they are to be higher quality. Considering longer durability, many branded clothes are seen as good value for money.

Pakistan’s fashion industry requires originality in fashion designs instead of merely of copying the foreign designers. The industry may build own brand names in local, regional or international market as they may see fit. It must look for opportunities for creating new concepts.


In Pakistan, our designers have really defined creativity and there are dozens of foreign/local educated new fashion designers who have stepped up in the industry. To educate stakeholders about high fashion market, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has been participating in reputed international fashion exhibitions.

Furthermore, TDAP in collaboration with CBI (Centre for Promotion of Imports from developing countries – Netherlands) have been organizing series of workshops.

In this regard, CBI has developed garment training cycle in which the ‘EU Fashion Cycle’ was explained through some of its renowned fashion designers and experts.

These workshops impart practical knowledge and create awareness for working with the ‘EU Fashion Cycle’.

Through this training, TDAP-CBI provided a good understanding for those who want to be a trustful business partner with the EU or want to become a professional business player in the ‘EU Fashion Business.’

Pakistan’s fashion industry has become a very integral part of the operations of e-commerce businesses. It has helped to contribute a great deal to the revenues and profits of online businesses with a recorded 16.648 million fans on the e-commerce platform. This figure can be attributed to the rise in the popularity of fashion shows and other types of fashion events in Pakistan.


Fashion designers, both male and female, have flourished with the recent collection of the most innovative clothing, footwear and accessories’ designs in the fashion and apparel industry.

According to the e-commerce report, clothing is a leading product category on the Pakistani e-commerce landscape.

With other commercial ventures-commerce businesses also face a surge on the demand for fashion products during specific times of the year. These include religious festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha.

For example, on the occasion of both religious festivals, a rise in the demand for Shalwar Kameez and that of traditional footwear is observed.


Pakistan has been successful in establishing its apparel manufacturing industry. According to a new World Bank report Pakistan has a possible regional hub and it should continue to boost opportunities, especially for women and the poor.

The Stitches to Riches Apparel Employment Trade and Economic Development, recently launched in Pakistan is aimed at clarifying global and South Asian apparel markets, analyzing the potential increase in exports and jobs and determining policies that can ease country’s export and job potential compared with those of their competitors in the Southeast Asia region like Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

The report finds that it is significant for South Asian economies to remove existing hindrances and expediting growth in apparel to capture more production and create more employment. The prosperous manufacturers will be those who can supply a large range of quality products to buyers rapidly and trustworthy not just those who offer low costs.

China currently commands global apparel trade but that may change in coming years due to the rising prices in China.

Investors are compelled to seek out apparel firms in other countries. The potential decrease in Chinese exports presents a huge opportunity for South Asian countries.

A 10 percent increase in Chinese apparel prices would increase apparel employment in Pakistan for males by 8.93 percent, by far the biggest winner, followed by Bangladesh 4.22 percent and India 3.32 percent.

Women are also expected to gain the most as their share in the total apparel employment is much higher than their share in other industries.

The report finds that 1 percent increase in anticipated wages in Pakistan would raise the probability of women entering the labor force by 16.3 percent.

Apparel manufacturing presents the poor with job opportunities in Pakistan, especially for females. These employed women would in return spend more on the health and education of their children, which will contribute towards the larger economic and social development goals of the country.

Pakistan has a fast growing apparel sector that accounts for 19 percent of its exports and firms are competitive with global exporters in terms of prices.

Unfortunately low prices in most apparel product categories, Pakistan is far behind competitors. It also remains highly concentrated in cotton products.


South Asia has taken many steps in recent years to support the textile and apparel sector but it now needs to step up its game by tackling inefficiencies that are undermining its competitiveness.

Pakistan should use this opportunity and implement policies to become a regional leader in creating good jobs, bringing more women into the work force and varying its products and increasing skills and value.

Pakistan could benefit from the following policies. Increase product diversity by reducing barriers on imports to ease access to man-made fibers such as duty and tax remission for exports and export processing zones.

Facing tough competition in the overseas markets, Punjab’s textiles and clothing exporters are increasing their exposure to the cheerful domestic apparel market with a promising future. This is particularly for women clothing investing heavily in retail outlets. Many of them expect not only to make significant profits, but also support the textile industry in the domestic market owing to increasing affluence of the middle-income section of the country’s population.

Local market is getting more and more attractive on the back of rising income of middle class households. Therefore, more textile producers are consciously making efforts to increase their exposure in the local retail apparel market.

The size of the domestic apparel market is hard to estimate. But industry sources say the current size of the market for the stitched apparel was still very small, reflecting massive growth potential and opportunity for the textiles and garment manufacturers.

The domestic textile industry holds only a little more than a quarter of share in the total local fiber consumption of 10 kg per capita in the country. The rest of the demand is met through imported and smuggled fabric and apparel.

The World Bank has released a new report, detailing how a shift in China’s apparel market can create as many as 1.5 million new jobs in South Asia. It also states that under the current policies, as Chinese apparel prices rise by, for example, 10 percent, employment might increase by nearly 220,000 in Pakistan alone.

China dominates the global apparel market. The world’s largest country by population, it accounts for 41 percent of the whole market, compared with 12 percent for South Asia. However, the apparel production will start to shift towards other developing countries, especially in Asia, as the wages continue to rise in China.

The largest shares of globally traded apparel are bought by developed countries, including the United States and many from the European Union. A price surge in China will force buyers from these countries to search for other places from which to source apparel.

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