Like many Western countries today, Germany’s clothing and textiles are not all manufactured nationally, with production being outsourced to factories elsewhere in the world. Based on import value, the most important countries for clothing imports to Germany are China, far outstripping Bangladesh and Turkey. Some of the most imported articles of clothing are dresses, suits and trousers. Concerns and issues accompanying clothes imports are working conditions for employees abroad, benefits and salaries, as well as following labor laws. Another issue around textile manufacturing is sustainable production to reduce or even cancel out negative impacts on the environment. Examples of the latter include mismanagement of production waste, increased amounts of water and chemicals used and CO2 emissions through the transport of goods. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of these topics, which is undoubtedly part of the reason why certified fair trade textile sales have been growing in Germany.
An ongoing challenge for the clothing retail business, specifically for brick-and-mortar stores, is online clothing retail. The explosive rise of online shopping among consumers also leads to stores closing, in addition to changing customer preferences, quality standards, convenience and rent costs in cities. Of course, the future may look different for those stores which embrace and develop their own online shops, thus creating a new revenue stream within their own brand. Most recently, online fashion shops in particular generated almost 7.7 billion euros worth of revenue. The emergence and accelerated development of online clothing retail doesn’t remove the aforementioned requirements for a fair textile industry. In fact, the issues surrounding textile manufacturing become even more acute with the ongoing development of online textile and clothing retail, as the rising demand from consumers, due in part simply to the convenience of online shopping, puts further pressure on industry employees and sectors.