Switzerland’s textiles and clothing industry focuses on the development and manufacture of high-quality products, in both the clothing and home textile segments, as well as in the field of technical textiles. The industry also provides a variety of services. In the past few decades, the world of textiles and clothing has been transformed into a global industry. The Swiss textiles sector comprises numerous small and medium-sized companies that carry out research, development and/or production on site in Switzerland.
In terms of international pricing competition, Switzerland does not stand a chance when it comes to standard products, because of the high costs of Swiss development and production. In the past few decades, Swiss companies have had to find ways to be distinctive and to respond more quickly and be more inventive than their international competitors. Many companies have evolved into globally operating providers of niche products. More than 70 percent of the products are exported: textile exports amount to around 1.3 billion Swiss francs and clothing to approximately 0.8 billion. Alongside Germany, Italy and France, the most important export markets are China and the USA, both of which offer highly promising growth prospects for technical textiles, which now account for half the export volume and have grown by more than 30 percent in the past ten years.
The Swiss textiles and clothing industry has always been internationally oriented. Today, more than three-quarters of its products are exported. The Swiss textiles industry currently provides around 50,000 jobs throughout the world.
Turnover in the wholesale textiles and clothing segments is around 15 billion Swiss francs, while the figure for the processing industry is around 3 billion. Retail business in particular is currently undergoing a period of transition. Online trade is turning the world into a village and end consumers are moving closer to manufacturers. The greater transparency on the Internet will increase pressure on prices, while access to more distant markets will become easier.