Sri Lankan Apparel Export Position in Global Market

Last Updated on 21/02/2021

Sri Lankan Apparel Export Position in Global Market

Harshani Wijendra
Sri Lanka Institute of Textile & Apparel Technology (SLITA)


Today Sri Lanka’s primary foreign exchange earner accounting to 40% of the total exports and 52% of industrial products exports. This industry, entirely privately owned has successfully exploited the opportunities in the international market. The apparel industry of Sri Lanka employs about 15% of the country’s workforce.

Sri Lankan apparel industry
Fig: Sri Lankan apparel industry

The apparel industry in Sri Lanka is the largest single employer in the manufacturing industry providing direct employment opportunities to over 300,000 and 600,000 indirectly which includes a substantial number of women in Sri Lanka. Around 350 garment factories are operating in different parts of Sri Lanka and around 16 textile and fabric manufacturing units are in operation which plays a key role in the advancement of the apparel industry.

Sri Lankan Apparel Export Overview in Recent Years

2016 US$. Mn2017 US$. Mn2018 US$. Mn2019 US$. Mn2020 US$. Mn2019 / 2020 Change %
Total Exports443.40377.00389.00442.00442.520.12%

Leading Textile Universities in Sri Lanka turn out highly qualified graduates each year, and talented individuals are exposed to the limelight though a number of local design festivals and trade shows. Working hand in hand with customers on forecasting trends and creating new customized ranges with innovative techniques, the future of Sri Lankan apparel is in safe hands.

Apparel categories span includes Sportswear, Lingerie, Loungewear, Bridal wear, Work wear, Swimwear, Children swear. USA and the United Kingdom have historically been the largest buyers of Sri Lankan apparel throughout the decades.

Long term relationships with reputed multinational retailers who have identified standards of manufacture and compliance have led to economic sustainability.

The industry produces high quality garments combined with an industry which is flexible and uniquely capable in servicing leading international brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Liz Claiborne, Next, Jones New York, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Pink, Triumph, Ann Taylor, Speedo, Abercrombie & Fitch, Land’s End, Marks & Spencer, Intimmissimi, etc. Worn by quality conscious consumers all over the world, products belonging to these international brands are sourced and manufactured in Sri Lanka – -South Asia’s fashion and logistics hub and global apparel visionary.

Sri Lanka is a producer of “Garments Without Guilt” the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ label is comfortably synonymous worldwide with the values of high quality, reliability, social and environmental accountability. Sri Lankan apparel has evolved from traditional exports and tailoring designs to providing sophisticated solutions, creativity and experience in BPO services, Fashion, R&D and Innovation Centers, bridging the country’s gap between developing and developed.

Organic growth is guaranteed through market penetration and capacity expansion in the recently opened North and East of the country, where 10 factories are in construction with more projects on the way. In addition, Sri Lanka’s envisaged exponential growth through hub services will emphasize the industry’s rise to international fame. It is no surprise that Sri Lanka’s top three apparel companies are already amongst the world’s 50 most important suppliers, and the industry has sustained over US 3 Billion in export revenue for five consecutive years.

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