The Thai textile industry is among the largest commercial businesses in terms of economic growth and jobs in the country. Even though they have tough competition from Vietnam, China, and Bangladesh, the Thai textile industry has been mainly focusing on various innovations that sets them apart from their neighbors. Textiles are made from various raw material – threads, filaments, fibers, and yarn. They encompass everything from clothing to the roofing tiles and some glass tiles too. The textile industry starts from the planting and cultivation of the crops, weaving, dyeing to the creation of fibers. Due to the large amounts of products created by the industry, it is a large economic supporter of Thailand. The Thai textile business employs over a million people.
The textiles of Thailand
Because of the capability of Thailand to create synthetic fibers and their prolific industry of natural fibers, Thailand has a great advantage in the textile industry at present. The industry has plants throughout the country. The largest export in Thailand is cotton. Thailand is one of the largest headquarters for Cotton USA. The dyeing and production of compact cotton yarns are done here along with a lot of other products. The cotton is grown and picked in the United States. Then it is shipped to Thailand where they are made into clothes and other materials.
However, the country has struggled to meet the price points of some other countries, like Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. The export prices of these countries are lower than that of Thailand. However, Thailand offers higher wages to employees. The requirements for technology and the status of the facilities is much greater in Thailand. The country is also starting to breach the high fashion industry. Their unique cultural and bright colored designs are starting to make impact. They are working to become the center of the ASEAN fashion community.
Thailand is bringing in new innovations to the market
Thailand is not only renowned for textile mills. They are also becoming popular for creating new kinds of materials. While some are solar-powered wear, there are anti-dust and mite variations too. These innovations are making Thailand a key player in the textile industry. More resources are being invested in the creation of new synthetic fibers. New and interesting combinations of natural ingredients are being used, for example, textile leveraging the antimicrobial properties of coconut and charcoal.
There are some other innovations too that the country is focusing on. These include medical clothing and medical implants. The advances they made in this field have increased and made this industry quite significant. With the help of our Startup advisory and consulting services, you can potentially consider starting a new business by taking advantage of these innovations in the Thai textile industry. There is a huge market potential in Thailand for these products.
Fashion and sustainability are starting to walk hand-in-hand
Sustainability and fashion have been bitter foes for long, but this is starting to change, especially in Thailand. The Thai textile industry has a good eye for new and innovative products in the textile industry. Now, the businesses are starting to learn if they start to care for the environment, then it could be good for their brand image and business. Most fashion brands are starting to make their commitments to the environment. New terms like recycled polyester, organic cotton and nylon can be heard these days. Nylon made from recycled fishing nets is now used. There are even some companies that are starting to depend entirely on recycled fabrics and sustainable principles.
The fashion industry of Thailand is expanding very fast. It encompasses jewelry, leather, and garments. All of these contribute to the energetic and creative ambiance of Bangkok. Fashion in Thailand is still a young industry compared to fashion houses in Europe. The first brand had appeared about 25 years ago. The fashion industry in Thailand has grown to cover the whole sector – women, men, and children. Everyone is represented very well in the shop windows in Bangkok. The businesses are promoting fashion in all forms in the country, be it clothes, jewelry or shoes. Thailand has some strong traditions that surround high-quality fabrics, like Thai silk. That is why this industry is contributing so much to the economy of the country.
The government has taken its own steps to ensure that the style statement of Bangkok and its popularity as a major fashion hub stays intact. A project was started in 2004 to set up the ‘Bangkok Fashion City’. It would serve to turn Bangkok as the fashion hub of south-east Asia into the world fashion center by 2012. The cabinet has approved a budget of 1.8 billion Thai Baht and about 478.5 million from the private sector. The goals include promoting the different aspects of the fashion trade of Thailand covering garments, jewelry, textiles, and ornaments. It also covers the leather and footwear industry on a very grand scale to establish the image of Bangkok on a global scale as the center of fashion designs.
The World Trade Organization has offered full liberalization in textile quotas. This has caused a very tough competition between the WTO states in the global textile markets. However, Thailand is not as competitive against the countries offering cheap labor like Indonesia, China, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan. The manufacturers from Thailand create products of very high quality in order to compete with countries like Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. To gain promptness in the industry and better efficiency, supply chain systems and the logistics market need to be improved.
The market structure of the fashion industry in Thailand
The center stage of the fashion industry is textiles. Six different industries are connected with the garment industry, making it the largest in terms of production output. These are – the spinning industry, the synthetic fiber industry, the weaving industry, the garment industry and that of dyeing, bleaching, and finishing. The Thai textile industry is pursuing a value-added strategy, along with high quality to succeed in the quota-free and competitive environment. The fabric quality available in Thailand is quite high and it is improving continuously. The quality of silk is especially good and the sense of design is pretty good too.
There are government-sponsored programs to improve the fashion industry from the OEM-based production to the designs with the proper value. The development of branding is preparing the industry further to compete in the multi-fiber environment. The textile and garment industry has invested more than 45 million US dollars in imported machinery for the manufacture of fibers, weaving, spinning, printing, dyeing, and finishing. The growth of the industry has been very rapid in these recent years.
The contribution of the fashion industry with respect to market size
One of the major contributors to the Thai economy is the fashion industry. It accounts for as much as 17% of the total GDP. The textile industry is the largest manufacturing industry in Thailand. There are about 5000 factories all over the country that employ more than a million people. This is almost 20% of the total people who are employed in manufacturing. This shows how large the fashion industry in Thailand is. With the developments in production technologies and better machinery, the production rate is increasing, leading to better workforce skills and lower costs.
The annual exports exceed more than US$ 6 billion per year. The textiles and garments industries help the nation lead as one of the leading exporters. The garment exports consist of about 60% of the total exports of the country. In 2003, Thailand got ranked as the 13th largest exporter of garments. It had a 2% share of the global export market. The analysts have expected the industry to enjoy continuous growth, even though fuel prices are rising which is affecting the production costs. Most producers and exporters are gradually improving product quality in order to meet the requirements in the international market.
Almost 50% of the earnings that the Thailand fashion houses earn are from tourists. Most of the foreigners are surprised by the amazing Thai industry as well as the small fashion houses. The former governments had kept their focus on these industries which had helped it grow. There are twice as many local brands now than there was 20 years back. This has also allowed them to penetrate the international market. Now, Thai design firms are being invited to join the White trade fair and other annual international fashion showcases throughout the world.
The people of the country are very conscious and this also creates for a very demanding home market. Since the huge tourism industry, bringing in about 10 million tourists every year motivates the designers to bring in new ideas every year and offer customers the beauty of the Thai fashion industry. What makes the market so lively is the ancient appreciation of beauty, the decades of production experience and the modern sense of style. These are the key ingredients that help make Thailand the best location for the foreign fashion business. The government has taken some major steps as well to make sure that Thailand stands among the most competitive countries in the region.
The trends of the Thai market
The last couple of years have helped the Thai fashion industry through positive promotions. The government is creating about 1.2 million jobs in the industry and educating about 6000 fashion people – merchandisers, designers, and product specialists. The Bangkok Fashion City project would be mainly undertaking the project. This includes the overall design quality, manufacturing, and marketing. The project would even help to achieve a high level of skilled labor. The project is also concerned with educating the designers. The ‘Fashion Institute of Technology’ based in New York would be establishing a chapter in Thailand. There is already a fashion school in Bangkok run by Italian ‘Accademia Italiana Design Institute’.
The garment industry of Thailand had been among the top exporters of the country since 1985 and ranks second among the top 10 exports in the country. The Thai people are renowned for their artisanship. Inward Foreign Direct Investments would bring in further improvements in product design. There will be a solid establishment of Thai products and brands. There is also research and development underway to develop the branding and design of the textiles, modernization of machinery and technology. The labor-intensive industry is slowly being transformed into an innovative market.
Interesting Reads :
- Thailand Industries – Market Report of 17 industries
- Why Thailand Is A Good Business Destination
- Business in Thailand – How Different it is from Rest of the World
- Initial Steps for Starting a business in Thailand
- Why do you need for Specialist to Startup in Thailand?
- The success of small businesses in Asia. Is Asia really booming?
- Is this the right time to start a business in the ASEAN region?