Canada has a vibrant and diverse fashion and apparel industry, ranging from small companies selling unique designs to larger, globally known brands. The sector is an important employer in Canada, especially in provinces like Quebec where the fashion and apparel industry employs over 80,000 people, and Ontario with 50,000 people employed in the industry.
In this article, we look at what is happening in the fashion industry in Canada through key statistics. You will find information on the economic value of the Canadian fashion and apparel industry, market trends, and predictions, among other interesting statistics on the fashion and apparel industry.
Fashion and Apparel Industry Statistics for Canadians
- In 2022, the Canadian fashion and apparel industry seemed to be bouncing back following the pandemic with 19.6% growth compared to 2021.
- The industry forecast for Canada is 3.6% growth in 2023, with the retail market reaching $34.3 billion.
- Montreal has 48% of Canada’s apparel manufacturers.
- 95% of apparel sold in Canada in 2020 was imported.
- As inflation hit consumer prices, apparel prices increased only by 0.2% in Canada.
- The average Canadian household spent $3,344 on clothing and accessories in 2019.
- The fashion and apparel industry accounts for 27% of Canada’s eCommerce sector and is expected to account for almost 34% in 2027.
- Sales of luxury apparel are expected to grow by 7% in 2023 in Canada.
- The second-hand fashion and apparel sector is expected to grow twice as fast as the retail sector, as people look for more sustainable fashion.
- The global market revenue of the fashion and apparel industry was 1.53 trillion USD in 2022.
Definition of the Fashion and Apparel Industry in Canada
The Canadian fashion industry includes establishments that are primarily focused on clothes and clothing accessories from designing to manufacturing them. The primary product lines of the industry include fashion clothing, technical outerwear and other occupational clothing, activewear, survival wear, tourism-related goods, gloves, hats, hosiery, and foundation garments.
Economic Overview of the Canadian Fashion and Apparel Industry
In 2020, the Canadian apparel market was valued at $12.7 billion. Before the pandemic, the Canadian fashion and apparel manufacturing sector saw slow but stable growth between 2016 and 2019. However, in 2020, the industry’s retail volume declined significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and rules to stay at home.
The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the industry’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 1.7% between 2016 and 2019. However, the CAGR declined by 20.7% in 2020 because of the pandemic. In 2020, the apparel market fell to $23.8 billion and was still just $27.7 billion in 2021. Bouncing back in 2022, the apparel market grew by 19.6% to $33.2 billion, edging closer to its pre-pandemic sales figures of $35 billion.
The COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on the labour force in Canada, including the fashion and apparel industry. The pandemic also led to temporary and permanent job losses, reducing the labour force by 17.8%. As a result, the productivity rate declined by 3.5% in 2020.
According to a report on the fashion and apparel industry in Canada by Trendex North America, the retail apparel market in Canada is expected to reach $34.3 billion in 2023. This would be a 3.6% increase from the previous year, signalling a return to more normal, pre-pandemic figures. The report forecasts further growth of 2.5% in 2024 and 2.8% in 2025, bringing the annual sales up to $35.2 billion and $36.2 billion, respectively.
Montreal is Canada’s Fashion Capital
Montreal has been ranked the third city in clothing manufacturing in North America after New York and Los Angeles. There are 1,846 established companies in the city with many other innovative clothing startups. 48% of Canada’s apparel production is in Montreal and the city is host to many fashion events. 58% of Quebec’s 82,540 fashion and apparel industry jobs are in Montreal.
While Montreal takes the lead, Toronto is not far behind with almost 50,000 jobs in the fashion and apparel industry, including retail jobs, in the city. However, it does not compare with Montreal in manufacturing volume because just 16.3% of the total industry jobs are within the manufacturing sector.
The Majority of Clothing Bought in Canada Is Imported
Despite the vibrant homegrown apparel companies, a huge majority of the apparel sold in Canada is imported. In 2020, 95% of apparel sold in Canada was imported. This represents $12 billion of the $12.7 billion domestic apparel market. During the same year, the domestic market expanded at a CAGR of 6.5%, which has increased the country’s appeal to overseas apparel manufacturers.
However, at the same time, apparel manufacturers in Canada are becoming more export-oriented in response to international demand for Canadian brands. During the 2016-2019 period, the CAGR of domestic exports was 0.9%, which shows increasing demand for Canadian goods on the international market.
Inflation Has Not Increased the Prices of Apparel in Canada
According to Statistics Canada, consumer prices in Canada rose by 11.4% in total in 2021 and 2022. However, this overall inflation rate has not affected the prices of apparel in Canada. Unlike other consumer goods, apparel prices have only gone up by 0.2%.
This shows that the higher rate of inflation has not had a negative effect on the apparel retail sector in Canada, at least not yet. However, it may still end up having a negative impact on discretionary purchases such as clothing, if prices of necessary goods remain high.
Spending on Clothing and Accessories in Canada
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian households spent on average $3,344 on their clothing and accessories in 2019. This was the lowest average between 2010 and 2019, with the second lowest average of $3,360 from 2011. The average spending in 2019 was just over $500 more per household compared to ten years earlier when the average household spent $2,841 per year on clothing and accessories.
The Fashion Industry’s eCommerce Sector Will Grow in 2023
During the pandemic, as brick-and-mortar clothing stores were mandated to close, Canadians became more accustomed to buying their clothes online. Despite shops reopening, it is forecast that the eCommerce sector of the fashion and apparel industry will continue to grow. Sales are predicted to increase by 6.6% in 2023 and the market prediction for Canada’s fashion eCommerce in 2023 is $22,174 billion.
The sector accounts for 27.1% of Canada’s eCommerce market and it is expected to grow its share in the future. The CAGR of the fashion eCommerce market is predicted to be 12.4% between 2023 and 2027. Should that projection be accurate, the market volume will be $35.36 billion by 2027 and the share of eCommerce will be 33.9%.
The company that generated the largest eCommerce revenue in 2022 was shein.com with $1,159 million. It was followed by thebay.com and Gap Canada both with approximately $667 million. The top three stores accounted for approximately 23.4% of the eCommerce market share in Canada.
Luxury Apparel Sales Are Predicted to Grow
Another sector of the fashion and apparel industry that is predicted to grow in 2023 is the luxury apparel sector. Sales in this sector are expected to increase by 7%, largely because of an increased number of tourists visiting Canada. By 2026, the sales of luxury apparel in Canada are expected to exceed $3.2 billion.
Resale and Second-Hand Fashion and Apparel Industry in Canada
In recent years, the number of people selling and buying second-hand apparel has grown, mostly because of the popularity of apps such as Vinted. This sector is expected to grow at least twice as fast as the retail apparel market in Canada.
Millennials and baby boomers are the most likely Canadians to buy second-hand fashion. However, the portion of Gen Z Canadians buying second-hand is growing 2.5 times faster than any other age group. Sustainability is a key factor behind the growth in second-hand sales in Canada as people, especially younger female consumers, realise the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
Global Fashion Industry
In 2022, the global apparel market produced a revenue of 1.53 trillion USD according to Statista. The revenue is forecast to reach 1.7 trillion USD in 2023. Around 75 million people are employed throughout the global fashion and apparel industry’s value chain. The fashion industry was the third biggest manufacturing sector in the world. The biggest was the automobile industry followed by the technology industry.
The United States had the world’s largest apparel market in 2022, with US$312 billion in sales. It was followed by China, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Globally, the top apparel and accessories brand was LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) with total sales of US$75.9 billion.
Globally, over 30% of fashion retail sales were made online, a slightly higher portion than in Canada. Online sales are expected to reach US$872 billion by the end of 2023. Sales of sustainably produced clothing are predicted to grow from 3.9% to 6.1% in 2026. This will hopefully help to reduce the 92 million tons of waste produced and 79 trillion litres of water consumed by the global fashion industry.
Environmental Impact of the Fashion and Apparel Industry
The fashion industry has a large impact on the environment. For example, 3,781 litres of water are needed to make one pair of jeans from growing the cotton to delivery in the store. In total, 93 billion cubic meters of water are used by the fashion industry. This is enough water to meet the needs of 5 million people. In addition, approximately 20% of the world’s wastewater is produced by dyeing and treating fabrics.
Only 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing and about 87% of fibres used for clothing end up in landfills or incinerated. 10% of global carbon emissions are generated by the fashion industry. This is more than the combined emissions from maritime shipping and international flights.
If the fashion industry continues in the same direction, its greenhouse gas emissions will increase by over 50% by 2030 as the consumption of clothing and accessories globally will grow to 102 million tons in ten years from 62 million metric tons in 2019.
One of the main reasons for the increased environmental impact of the fashion and apparel industry is the increased demand for fast fashion. While 50 billion new items of clothing were made at the start of the millennium, in 2020, the number of new garments had doubled and the average consumer bought 60% more new clothes compared to 2000.
Following a few difficult years with reduced sales and market value because of COVID-19, the Canadian fashion and apparel industry shows strong signs of recovery. The fashion and apparel industry is important to the Canadian economy, especially in areas such as Monreal and Toronto with large concentrations of fashion businesses.
While Canadian companies are increasing their exports, 95% of clothes bought in Canada are imported, showing that there is potential for much more growth for Canadian companies on the domestic market.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many well-known Canadian brands. Some of the biggest ones include Canada Goose, KOTN, and Lululemon.
Montreal and Toronto have the biggest concentrations of fashion and apparel companies and manufacturers in Canada.
How much you can earn depends on what you want to do in fashion. For example, a stylist can earn around $42,000 per year on average, while a designer earns almost $80,000 on average.