Is the French Apparel Manufacturing Sector Going Out of Fashion?

Published on Apr 12, 2023

Updated on May 19, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

When we think of France, one thing comes to mind (aside from croissants): fashion. The epicentre of haute couture, France has an unrivalled history of bringing art and creativity into the clothing world, from the Marie Antoinette era to the modern buzz of Paris Fashion Week. 

The French fashion industry as a whole is expected to reach over €27 billion this year. But it is not all diamonds and rosé for the fashion manufacturing sector in France, and Lightcast data shows some unexpected figures. So what role does the fashion manufacturing sector actually play in the French labour market and economy?

In this article, we explore the state of recruitment activity in fashion manufacturing in France, its leading regional markets, and the most in-demand common and specialised skills for roles in this sector.  

The capital of fashion selling, but where are our clothes actually made? 

If you want to do some serious clothes shopping, Paris is the place to go to find all the renowned and emerging fashion designers. However, while Paris may be the capital of fashion, it certainly doesn’t seem to be the capital of fashion manufacturing. 

Lightcast European data shows that fashion manufacturing-related job postings only account for a microscopic 0.18% of all job postings in France. This percentage has remained stagnant over the last three years, so we don’t need to put on our thinking caps to see that the actual manufacturing of apparel is not as active as we might have supposed. France may be the best at fashion selling, but its clothes are coming from elsewhere. So who is doing the dirty laundry?

Looking at a broader European level, out of the 9 European countries we studied, Austria has the biggest fashion manufacturing market. Yet, despite being top of the list, only 1.01% of all Austrian jobs postings are fashion manufacturing-related. With Europe showing such low percentages, we can see that the vast majority of clothes manufacturing comes from outside of this continent, particuparly from South Asia. 

Within Europe, Switzerland and Germany take second and third place. Where is France on this list? Surprisingly (or not - after the data we analysed), close to the the very bottom. As a proportion of its entire labour market, France has the third smallest employer demand for workers in the clothing industry, just above Belgium and Spain. The “Made in France” clothing tags seems to be scarce not just worldwide, but in Europe too.

Which French regions are fashion manufacturing leaders?

It’s Annecy, in the southeast of France,  that gets the biggest piece of the fashion manufacturing job postings pie, with 0.53% of all its job postings being fashion manufacturing-related. Just 35 kilometres south of Switzerland, this area is popular among tourists, but not particularly known for its fashion. 

Nice, located in the glamorous French Riviera, is perhaps a more obvious leading market for fashion manufacturing, and takes second place on the list. Paris only comes third, with fashion manufacturing job postings accounting for 0.19% of all job postings in the area - a considerable and certainly unexpected difference from Annecy.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Le Mans, Montpellier and Nantes, with the lowest share of fashion manufacturing job postings. Le Mans’s fashion manufacturing job postings only account for 0.07% of all job postings in the region, while Montpellier and Nantes’ account for 0.08% and 0.09% respectively. 

What skills do you need for fashion manufacturing in France?

Brand identity is the most in-demand specialised skill, requested in 14.56% of all fashion manufacturing job postings in France. It is followed by merchandising and point of sale skills, which are present in 27.72% and 14.56% of all job postings for this French sector. Other top in-demand skills for this sector include selling techniques, e-commerce, customer support. 

Even though we are analysing the fashion manufacturing sector in particular, we can see that most of its in-demand skills are actually related to sales, which strengthens the view that fashion sales really is where the power lies.

Even the most sought-after common skills show a similar picture, with the most in-demand common skill being Sales, present in a staggering 52.60% of job postings. Management and presentation skills take second and third place respectively. 

Get more European data 

"Fashion is a staple of French culture. While we may not know much about fashion trends, we certainly know about fashion labour market trends, and we have the data to back them up. So, whether you’re looking to understand the fashion sector or any other sector in Europe, Lightcast data can help. Access country-specific growth trends, occupations, in-demand skills, and much more, and make more well-informed, future-proof decisions for your organisation."

Whether you're a business looking to implement a truly skills-led approach to your workforce planning; a regional development agency seeking to understand the skills in your region; or an education provider looking to understand the skills you need to be teaching to help your students become more employable - we have the data you need. 

Have a look at our recent blogs exploring other leading markets in European countries, such as the state of tourism in Spain, the French fashion manufacturing sector, or the German automotive sector.

Plus, our free European Insights tool gives you a small taster of the kind of data you can get - so do give it a try. Get in touch with us to discuss your labour market challenges, and let’s work together to unlock new opportunities through data.

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