Apparel and Footwear in 2016: Trends, Developments and Prospects

June 2016

The global apparel and footwear market continues to provide steady growth despite weakening performances in Brazil and Russia and softer growth in China. A sustained recovery in Western Europe remains elusive, while the Middle East and Africa further illustrates its strong growth potential providing a significant boost to global apparel and footwear sales. This report explores the most prominent trends from a geographic standpoint as well as key drivers within the global market.

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Resilient global growth despite economic headwinds

The global apparel and footwear market delivered another year of strong growth in 2015, increasing by 5% despite weakness in key markets, such as China, Russia and Brazil.

China’s growth slowing but Asia Pacific remains number one opportunity

For the first time, China’s year-on-year growth fell behind the rest of Asia Pacific. Despite a slowdown in the Chinese economy, Asia Pacific will retain its leading position as the largest apparel and footwear region with dynamic growth stemming from emerging markets such as India, Vietnam and Indonesia, providing potentially lucrative opportunities for international brands.

US remains leading market

The US continues to provide robust growth benefiting from a solid post-recession recovery. The slowdown in China has enabled the US to remain the world’s leading market to 2018, highlighting its strategic importance within the global industry.

Outlook for Western Europe showing tentative signs of improvement

Western Europe experienced negligible growth again in 2015, however, with the exception of Greece and Italy, there are signs of a turnaround as momentum builds in markets such as Turkey, Norway and Spain. As performance within the region varies, future growth appears fragile.

Proliferation of sportswear and comfort dressing continues

Wellness lifestyle trends, combined with dynamic growth of performance and sports-inspired apparel and footwear has led to an inexorable shift towards comfort dressing on a day-to-day basis. Noticeably, sports footwear continues to drive growth as consumers demand functionality and comfort in their everyday shoes.

Childrenswear dominates growth in apparel

Growth in childrenswear surpasses both men and womenswear in 2015 for the third consecutive year, driven by fashion’s infiltration into the category alongside favourable demographics and aspirational consumption in emerging markets.


Key findings

Global market spotlight

Resilient performance despite economic headwinds
Western Europe continues to be the weak link in global growth
US retains its number one positioning
Value growth leads, boosted by emerging markets
Sportswear’s winning streak…
…and childrenswear’s fashionable makeover

Regional and country mix

Stuttering growth in emerging markets
Emerging outpaces developed in internet retailing
Beyond China’s shadow, buoyant growth emerges
China falls behind rest of Asia Pacific
India illustrates huge potential
Evolving consumer demands…
…and a growing interest in sportswear
Fast fashion moves in on luxury territory in Hong Kong
Japan struggles to return to pre-crisis growth
US presents a robust but increasingly competitive environment
Sportswear strengthens its grip on the US
Very slow recovery continues in Western Europe
Eastern Europe strives for growth…
…but continue to be held back by Russia and Ukraine
Inflationary woes distort Latin Americas success
Olympics may provide a much-needed boost for Brazil
Middle East and Africa defies slowdown trend
South Africa acts as a stepping stone into Africa
Australia outpaces Western European rivals

Category highlights

Fashionably comfortable
Sportswear continues to provide dynamic growth
Footwear outpaces apparel
Challenging environment for denim calls for functionality
Micro-fashion fuels apparel
Fashion-conscious males boost menswear

Future outlook

Asia Pacific extends its lead further
Middle East and Africa to provide fashion’s long-term growth
Fashion’s future hotspots
Sportswear and comfort dressing to lead category growth

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