25 Shocking Fashion Industry Statistics

Rear view of models walking down a fashion runway

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There are over 7 billion people on this planet. 7 billion! If you count one number a second without stopping until you reach a billion, you’d be counting for 31 years, 259 days, 1 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds. That’s how much a billion is.

If each person owned only one pair of pants, one shirt, and one jacket, that would be 21 billion articles of clothing. If you were to count each of those, one per second, it would take nearly 672 years. That’s a lot of clothes! And it’s safe to assume that many of us own more than three items of apparel.

Given that there are so many of us, and clothes are one of the three basic needs, the statistics surrounding the textile and fashion industry are nothing short of staggering. Here's a look:

We Spend, We Spend

Woman walking down the sidewalk with shopping bags and a designer purse
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1. The world clothing and textile industry (clothing, textiles, footwear and luxury goods) reached almost $2,560 trillion in 2010.

2. The world childrenswear market is expected to reach beyond $186 billion in 2014, marking a 15 percent increase in five years.

3. The world bridalwear market is expected to reach almost $57 billion by 2015.

4. The world menswear industry should exceed $402 billion in 2014.

5. The world womenswear industry is expected to pass $621 billion in 2014.

6. The world market for textiles made from organically grown cotton was worth over $5 billion in 2010. Yay!

7. In 2010, American households spent, on average, $1,700 on apparel, footwear, and related products and services.

8. Manhattanites spend the most on apparel at $362 per month.

9. Shoppers in Tuscon, Arizona spend the least on apparel: $131 per month.

10. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has spent more than £35,000 $54,000 on clothes since the beginning of 2012.

11. Consumers in the United Kingdom have an estimated £30 billion ($46.7 billion) worth of unworn clothes lingering in their closets.

Busy in China

Workers at sewing machines in a factory
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In 2010, China’s textile industry processed 41.3 million tons of fiber and accounted for 52-54 percent of the world’s total production.

13. The Chinese textile industry creates about 3 billion tons of soot each year.

14. Millions of tons of unused fabric at Chinese mills go to waste each year when dyed the wrong color.

15. A single mill in China can use 200 tons of water for each ton of fabric it dyes; many rivers run with the colors of the season as the untreated toxic dyes wash off from mills.

16. In 2010, the textile industry ranked third for overall in Chinese industry for wastewater discharge amount at 2.5 billion tons of wastewater per year.

17. The textile industry discharges about 300,600 tons of COD and contributes to 8.2 percent of COD pollution in China.

18. As of February 20th, 2012, the China Pollution Map Database had 6,000 records of textile factories violating environmental regulations, including: discharging wastewater from hidden pipes; discharging untreated pollutants; improper use of wastewater treatment facilities; exceeding total pollutant discharge allowed; and using production facilities that were shut down by the authorities for various reasons.

19. After preliminary investigations into links between well-known apparel brands and textile manufacturers with environmental violations, a group of five organizations sent letters to the CEOs of 48 companies. Respondants included Nike, Esquel, Walmart, H&M; Levi’s, Adidas, and Burberry – all who have now started to take proactive measures and have carried out inquiries and pushed suppliers to take corrective actions.

Making It Happen

Workers sitting at sewing machines in a garment factory in Southeast Asia
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Employment in the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry has declined by more than 80 percent (from about 900,000 to 150,000 jobs) over the past two decades.

21. Yet, labor productivity in the U.S. manufacturing sector more than doubled from 1987 to 2010. Labor productivity also more than doubled over that period in U.S. textile mills and nearly doubled in footwear manufacturing.

22. In 2007, among those countries studied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Germany had the highest hourly compensation costs within the apparel manufacturing industry.

23. The Philippines, with compensation costs at 88 cents per hour, had the lowest among those countries studied.

Last But Not Least

The runway with models at New York fashion week
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24. 232,000 people attend New York Fashion Week per year (116,000 each fashion week).

25. $20 million is funneled into the New York City economy during fashion week.