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Global Fashion Market Overview for Business Owners

14 min read


The pandemic has certainly changed the way people think about clothing and footwear, as well as how they make fashion-related purchases. In the past, high-end fashion and unique apparel were only within reach of the upper-middle class, but with the global nature of online apparel shopping, almost anyone can afford to show their style and flair.

In addition, there has been a dramatic increase in gig work and freelancing, leading to radical change in every industry, fashion included. Most jurisdictions have made it easy for people to earn money selling online legally, with inexpensive or More and more fashion designers and gurus have struck out on their own with online and local storefronts, while still competing on the global runway.

Yet it is important that fashion professionals don’t get too hung up on the global perspective. But it is helpful to examine fashion on a global scale. This forward-thinking is important for understanding your target customers so that you can relate to them in promoting your brand.  Most small clothing and footwear brands are more successful on a local level, and you should use a combination of global and local SEO and marketing to launch your brand successfully.

The following global fashion market overview will give fashion industry professionals with that entrepreneurial spirit the facts necessary for success. Professionals in every industry should endeavor to keep up with global trends, but this is even more true in the fashion world.

Trends can change at the drop of a hat. In fact, fast fashion is all about changing out your style or look on a regular basis. The information in this comprehensive report will provide you with the facts you need to develop and target your desired audience to build your clothing brand to the next level.

However, it is important to keep in mind that some of the data in this report are based on data sets from 2019 or 2020. Many of the latest market research findings are actually pre-pandemic. The pandemic made most market research a very low priority, so some data may appear outdated. The section on fashion trend forecasts will give you the additional information that you can use to build your brand.

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Fast Fashion Facts and Key Fashion Statistics

This comprehensive report on the global fashion market gives you an in-depth view at the trends shaping the future of clothing and apparel companies and entrepreneurs. Here are some key takeaways that you should consider as you work through the fashion market report.

  • Global fashion industry value: around $3,000 billion (Source)
  • US domestic fashion industry value: $368 billion (Source)
  • Global women’s apparel value: $804 billion (Source)
  • Global menswear value: $483 billion (Source)
  • Global children’s apparel value: $238 billion (Source)
  • Anticipated 2021 global apparel market increase: globally 20%; US 30%; Europe 30%
  • 41% of shoppers plan to continue buying apparel online even as brick-and-mortar stores reopen

These statistics make it clear that independent designers or fashion boutiques must offer online shopping, even if they have a brick-and-mortar storefront. With Ecwid you can set up your account and site quickly and easily, allowing you to start selling all over the web right away.

Current State of the Fashion Industry

The total value of the fashion industry has nearly doubled in the last year. The global fashion industry is about $3,000 billion, with the US domestic market alone worth over $360 billion. Women are, of course, the majority of apparel shoppers, and their clothing and footwear account for over $804 billion in the global fashion market.

The three largest fashion markets are the United States, China, and Japan. Shipping delays have led to most American consumers purchasing their apparel from other US companies. The most profitable growth segments are unique or high-end fashion, athleisure, and recommerce.

Fashion trends shaping the global apparel market

There are several new trends in post-pandemic fashion of which every fashion designer and retailer must cater to for continued success. Clothing is still about fashion and style, but it is also about comfort and leisure.

Gender-neutral and seasonless clothing is also on the rise, with consumers demanding versatility and comfort in their wardrobes. Athleisure and luxury fashion embracing the glam plus comfort mentality will perform the best in a society in which people are not too excited about returning to work.

Jump onboard the fast fashion trend

Fast fashion is an interesting trend that began with ecommerce companies like ThredUp and Poshmark. These online clothing resale stores are basically the equivalent of shopping in a high-quality thrift store or consignment shop. Today we also see clothing rental companies sending outfits to their customers for two weeks, with easy returns and lots of variety in their attire.

In either case, the end result is that people are able to swap out their wardrobe over and over again without paying the sticker price to own it for good. What’s more, with Ecwid literally anyone can start selling online right away, and if you only have a few items our free plan will likely work for you. That way you can also take advantage of the resale craze as you tire of your clothing, whether you bought it new or used is practically irrelevant.

How the Pandemic Affected the Global Fashion Industry

Online shopping has been steadily gaining momentum for the last two decades, but the explosion in ecommerce that occurred during the pandemic could never have been predicted. As local mandates closed nonessential stores and placed mask restrictions on shoppers, it has become more difficult for the indie fashion company to thrive in a local market with a brick-and-mortar store.

Consumer behavior has shifted dramatically since the onset of the pandemic. Most people now shop online for as much as possible. People were shopping online before covid-19, but there has been a radical increase in ecommerce fashion in the last year.

In a survey conducted in 2020, 41% of consumers said that they are now shopping online for items they normally would have bought in person. Additionally, apparel-specific ecommerce is expected to grow by a whopping 20% in 2021. What’s more, Bloomberg reports that 41% of American shoppers plan to continue buying clothing and apparel online even as more brick-and-mortar stores reopen. Meanwhile, estimates suggest that the global increase in digital apparel sales will increase by 20% this year, while the increase could be as much as 30% in the US and Europe.

This shift to digital fashion seems to be unhindered by many of the reasons people avoided buying clothing and shoes online before the pandemic. In fact, the pandemic brought consumer pain points in fashion ecommerce to the surface, allowing online apparel retailers to address the issues and improve customer service.

Issues with shipping and returns are the biggest downsides to buying apparel online

The most common reasons that people have avoided buying clothing and footwear online have been true for years, but the pandemic made these issues come to the surface in a new way. The three biggest reasons people used to avoid shopping fashion online were:

  • Delayed or expensive shipping options — a 2018 survey showed that 63% of consumers abandon carts based on shipping times or costs.
  • Lack of consistency in sizes combined with the inability to try on before buying — particularly when buying from the large overseas apparel markets, which are sized differently than US clothing brands. Almost 30% of consumers avoid buying clothing online simply because there is no way to guarantee it will fit.
  • Slow returns processes — Not being able to try on clothing before purchase results in a higher rate of returns that only the biggest fashion brands could reasonably handle in a timely manner.

Today, these issues are not just prominent in online shopping. Most brick-and-mortar fashion retailers have eliminated their fitting rooms in the wake of the pandemic. Such shared spaces are simply too difficult to sterilize between customers.

That means you still have a high rate of returns, even at local stores. The only real difference between them and online fashion retailers is that consumers may have to wait for the return to be processed before obtaining their replacement items.

Brand loyalty

In the past, brand loyalty was important in the fashion industry. Because there is no uniform sizing chart used by all apparel brands, consumers have had a tendency to stick with the same brands long-term when shopping online. This is no longer the case, although most American consumers try to shop locally or at least within their own country to avoid complications.

While customer service is more important than ever, people are also more concerned about affordability, sustainability, and the fast fashion trend. Today, most consumers have no loyalty to a predictable brand, and designers or shop owners will need to keep things fresh and exciting to be successful.

Pandemic fashion trends

Everyone got used to staying at home in their sweatpants during the height of the health crisis, and most are not willing to go back to uncomfortable evening or business attire. This has led to a few trends completely new to the fashion industry. Comfort is now a primary concern for online shoppers, leading to the creation of athleisure footwear and apparel suitable for professional environments and entertainment venues.

Forecast Market Growth in the Fashion Industry

It is predicted that, even with the decrease in demand for the fashion industry’s offerings, the apparel market will have a compound annual growth rate of about 5.5% now through 2025. As vintage clothing becomes ever more popular, the resale or recommerce market is expected to explode. Society as a whole is much more eco-conscious than previous generations, so this change in mentality about buying used items is not entirely unexpected.

The global apparel market is expected to grow by $1 trillion in the next 4 years, and experts postulate that most of this growth will be in the ecommerce sector, particularly those offering resale or sustainable items.

Another important thing to consider is that influencer marketing is becoming a must when it comes to fashion. There are so many small boutiques, so many independent fashion designers, that it can be really difficult to grab a piece of the pie. But if you can get influencers with large audiences on TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you could get a huge boost in sales.

How to Get Started Selling Fashion Online

With the trends of fashion, fashion rental, or fashion resale and recommerce, literally, anyone can start selling clothing and shoes online with some very inexpensive and easy-to-navigate online tools. Selling your old high-quality used clothing can help you pay for the new season’s fashions. You may also be able to sock away a bit of extra cash for birthdays, anniversaries, or the winter holiday season.

Also: Fashion Online Store Examples

The easiest way to start selling online is with an online storefront that connects to all of the places you might want to sell your products, including social media. A user-friendly interface with intuitive site builder tools, templates, and themes will make it very easy to set up your online store and list items for resale or rental right away.

You can also consider putting together a subscription box for some of your less expensive, smaller fashion accessories. Getting social media influencers to feature your products in a social media unboxing video could help you gain traction and truly begin to build a business that could one day take the place of your current employment.

As you grow, you will need to be able to handle more and more products in your online store. A platform like Ecwid allows you to scale up or down as needed to both meet your budget and provide your shoppers with more fashion items to choose from. If you just want to resell fashion items as a hobby or for extra income, you should definitely take advantage of the least expensive option.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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