Facts and figures

The fashion and textiles sector (including design, manufacturing, wholesale, media and retail) is estimated to be worth £26bn and employs around 797,000 people. The industry is dominated by small and medium-sized businesses, more than 80% of which have 10 employees or fewer.


UK fashion manufacturing (including textiles, clothing, leather and footwear) employs nearly 100,000 people. This production is worth £9bn and contributes £5.5bn in GVA to the UK economy.

There are many more thriving as freelancers and 'micro' businesses. The largest growth has been in enterprises recording between two and seven employees, which has increased by 75% over four years.

International reputation

In a global market, the USP of the UK fashion industry is design and high-end manufacturing, as it also is for many European countries. This includes the production of textiles and leather.


The UK is the ninth largest fashion manufacturing nation, by employment, in Europe (including the production of textiles, clothing, leather and footwear.) UK exports of these products amounted to £10.5bn in 2013, a 58% increase since 2003.

The turnover for the manufacture of high-end fashion is estimated to be £1.76bn. This equates to nearly 15% of the total output of the UK’s textiles, clothing, leather and footwear manufacturing sector. This area of the industry alone employs 8,750 people and directly contributes £732m to UK GDP.

Future growth of UK manufacturing

There are considerable opportunities in the UK with 65% of designers looking to increase the amount of products made here. Research identifies that it would be possible to create 1,700 extra jobs which could contribute an additional £169m to GDP by 2018. The British Fashion Council’s High-End Manufacturing report states that high-end manufacturing now has a combined turnover equivalent to 15% of sector output. 


The are natural pockets of industry around the UK with particular expertise or specialism. Northamptonshire is known for its leather and footwear production. The densest concentrations of textile production activity are in Greater Manchester, Leicestershire, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lancashire. These areas account for 44,000 employees in the UK. Greater Manchester contributes the most in terms of employment, with an estimated 11,300 jobs and an economic output of £600–£700m.


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up