The fashion and textile industry in Germany is one of the most important sectors in German economy, not for nothing it weighs heavily on the gross domestic product. In 2021, with approximately 1.3 million employee in the sector, it has reached the size of 66.8 billion EUR. For these reasons, the German clothing and footwear market is considered worldwide the fourth largest market in the sector and the second largest in the European Union, right after Italy.
Challenges to Innovation
The FEA-VEE report on the status quo of the fashion industry in the project countries brought to light the following challenges for innovation in the fashion industry in Germany:
- Lack of qualified workers:
This is a problem concerning not only the German economy but also several other European countries. According to a study conducted by the European Commission, 42.8% of German companies struggled in recruiting qualified staff in 2022. This is both the highest number within the EU-27 and the highest for the history of Germany since the surveys began.
The problem is partially due to the retirement of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, which has not been offset by an adequate birth rate.
With regard to the fashion sector specifically, the interviewed entrepreneurs and vocational training institutes complain of a talent drain towards the countries of the big brands, such as Italy and France. The fact that Germany is a leadership in the production of technical clothing and is at the forefront of ‘smart’ fabrics does not seem to be enough to attract new talents.
In addition, is important to mention that the employed workforce seems to have not yet mastered the digital and green skills, key to innovation in the sector.
- Lack of attractiveness of vocational training paths:
As more and more German teenagers enroll in university, vocational pathway places remain unfortunately vacant. Suffice is to know that between 2007 and 2021 the number of apprentices in the textile sector has decreased by more than half (Source: Statista).
- Digitalization and sustainability: opportunity and challenge for the companies in the sector:
The digital and ecological transformation concerning the fashion industry represents both an opportunity and a challenge, in terms of acquiring new skills and adjustment to norms. Several interviewed companies expressed concern about a possible loss of competitiveness on the international market caused by the adaption to the pressing European environmental regulations.
Innovations in the sector
What are the new technologies and trends in the fashion industry? The interviewee mentioned the 3D printing technologies and the augmented-virtual reality as particularly relevant developments for the future in the fashion industry.
Finally, compared to the rest of the countries taking part in the survey, Germany, seems to have a greater awareness of the importance of green skills for the labor market, not for nothing, the professional figures, such as the eco-designer and the textile bioengineer, are more widespread than elsewhere.
For more information, the full report is available in the learning center section of the FEA-VEE website.