Saudi Fashion Industry Data
Saudi Fashion Industry Data 1 min

Saudi Fashion Industry Data

The following section provides detailed insights into the Saudi Fashion sector.

Information contained in this section has been broken into five distinct segments: retail, production, the Saudi fashion value chain, raw material development and enabling environment. For extended detailed data-led insights, we recommend downloading and reviewing the State of Fashion in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2023) report.

Gildo Zegna, CEO of Italian luxury group Zegna recently stated that “The new Hong Kong is Dubai. And next it will be Saudi Arabia.”


Demand for fashion products is forecast to reach US$32 billion (SAR 120bn) in 2025

Saudi's retail sector, bolstered by a growing domestic market, is flourishing. Both physical stores and e-commerce platforms are thriving, the latter driven by Covid-19 shifts to online purchasing. Traditional souk markets persist, ensuring a diverse fashion landscape from haute couture to international brands across all market segments.

For women, shirts and blouses are the largest product category ($1.1bn, SAR 4.1bn) followed by jeans ($958m, SAR 3.8bn. The women’s apparel market is forecast to grow by 20% by 2027. 

While the dominant men’s product category is underwear ($626m, SAR 2.3bn) and other outerwear ($499m, SAR 1.9bn) which includes thobes. The men’s market, although smaller than women’s ($3.5bn, SAR 13.1bn vs $7.4bn, SAR 27.8bn), is expected to grow by 27% from 2022 to 2027.

Apparel exports increased by 11% from 2012 to 2021, from US$118m to US$130m. However, imports increased by 42% over the period: from US$2.7bn to US$3.8bn

Footwear exports grew by 218% from 2012 to 2021, although off a low base of US$5.1m at the start of the period. In 2021 US$16.4m was exported while US$881m was imported, representing an increase of 43% on 2012 importing levels. 

Jewellery and jewellery inputs such as pearls, precious and semi-precious stones and metals has traditionally been heavily skewed towards imports, with a dramatic shift in exports evident in the last 2 years.

Handbags and leather accessories are also heavily skewed to imports with a trade deficit of US$453 million in 2021.

Despite the dominance of fashion retailing within the Kingdom and its continued dependence on imports, there are many small-scale manufacturers operating in Saudi Arabia.

Domestic clothing and textiles manufacturing value addition was valued at US$2.1 billion (SAR 7.9 billion) in 2020. The value of clothing and textiles manufacturing value addition peaked at US$3.2 billion (SAR 12 billion) in 2016 (Figure 13).

Saudi’s clothing and textiles MVA of US$2.3 billion (SAR 8.6 billion) in 2019 was substantially larger than any other GCC economy, and nearly a full US$1 billion (SAR 3.75 billion) higher than the next largest GCC producer, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Developing advanced design and product development capabilities lies at the heart of the Kingdom’s emerging fashion ecosystem.

This change appears to be driven by economic shifts towards services within the Kingdom, along with increased connectivity to international markets improving the ability to import. Despite this, the Kingdom has a solid foundation upon which fashion production can grow.

Saudi Fashion Value Chain
UN Comtrade data highlights Saudi Arabia's reliance on imported textiles, with synthetic leading, followed by knitted, woven, and natural textiles. Despite $168M in synthetic textile exports in 2020, imports dominate, leading to a persistent, but decreasing, trade deficit. This links the fashion value chain to Saudi's robust petrochemical sector.

Knitted textile domestic production is limited, causing a 307% trade deficit increase from 2012-2021. Natural and woven textiles reveal a similar import dependency due to restricted domestic production, though woven textile imports decreased by 43% over the years.. The Saudi textile value chain thus reveals a picture of current dependencies, with significant local growth potential.

KSA exported US$168 million of synthetic textiles in 2020, but imports have consistently ensured a large (albeit declining) trade deficit over the period. 

There is currently limited production of knitted textiles in KSA

There is currently limited production of natural textiles in KSA, however, imports have been declining consistently over time

Woven textiles has seen a decline in imports of 43% from 2012 to 2021

Raw Material Development

The two most significant raw material inputs into clothing manufacturing are cotton and oil-based polyamides.

Saudi Arabia has shown strength in producing raw hides, skins, and leather, with minimal import reliance from 2012-2021. Despite fluctuations, exports of these items demonstrate a potential strength in Saudi's textile and fashion ecosystem.

In clothing manufacturing, cotton and oil-based polyamides are dominant. Cotton imports shrunk by 52% from 2012-2021, potentially due to limited knitting and weaving capabilities. However, pre-2016 data indicates previous in-country clothing production that may have fueled cotton demand.

Oil, essential for synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, and nylon, remains a cornerstone of Saudi's economy, with $210 billion mineral oil exports in 2021, securing a $205 billion trade surplus.

of all ksa exports,
Over the period from 2012 to 2021, cotton imports have declined by a full

In support of Vision 2030, the Saudi fashion value chain is expected to develop deep manufacturing and related services capabilities over the next decade as currently US$7 billion (SAR 26.3 billion) of fashion products are imported annually.

Cotton imports have steadily declined from 2012 to 2021, reflecting a decline of a full 52% over the period

Oil, which is a key component of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon, is a cornerstone of the KSA economy, accounting for 80% of the country’s exports

Oil, which is a key component of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon, is a cornerstone of the KSA economy, accounting for 80% of the country’s exports


For a thriving fashion industry, there's a need to further enhance design and craftsmanship skills while attracting skilled professionals to the workforce. Saudi Arabia, investing 19% of its government expenditure on education, outperforms both regional and global economies. The King Abdullah Scholarship Program, alongside the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program, has led to a considerable increase in students studying abroad.

Understanding the importance of fashion design education, the Ministry of Culture in 2019 introduced a scholarship for Saudi designers at leading US fashion schools. Today, twelve Saudi universities offer programs in fashion-related fields, becoming an essential source of skills, knowledge, and innovation. Among them, Umm Al Qura University, Al Qussaim University, and King Abdulaziz University stand out, offering six, seven, and eight programs, respectively. While enrollment in design courses is on the rise, the rates in production remain constant, signalling a need for talent growth in the production and education segments. Nurturing this talent pipeline is key to localizing the fashion value chain.

on education initiatives
universities in ksa offering
fashion programmes

An exhaustive evaluation of the workforce and education status within the fashion value chain was driven by leading entities in the Saudi fashion sector, using data from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development in 2022.

This study revealed a fashion ecosystem workforce of 230,000 individuals, with female participation standing at 52% and Saudization accounting for 66% within core fashion jobs. Studies underscore the positive impact of increased female participation in the workforce on overall well-being. Therefore, the fashion sector could potentially be a catalyst for not only GDP growth but also labor force diversity, female empowerment, and overall well-being.

Most of the programmes offered in fashion (94%) are offered at a bachelor’s level. As of 2021 these programmes have the capacity for 3 850 students and are predominantly focused on design, covering fashion, jewellery, and textiles.

University fashion programmes
have the student capacity for:
University fashion programmes
are offered at a bachelor’s level of:
Fashion in the kingdom

Industry 4.0 technologies promise to elevate the Kingdom's fashion value chain, offering a competitive edge over lower labour cost environments. Notable opportunities include additive manufacturing, digital twinning, AI, IoT, and blockchain technology, promising advancements from rapid prototyping to secure product verification.

The Saudi fashion sector prioritizes these technologies as strategic components of the domestic supply chain. CEO, Burak Cakmak, notes that the Kingdom is providing an enabling environment for this transition, highlighting emerging tech-savvy designers, absence of large-scale legacy operations, and a growing market.

Saudi Arabia also showcases manufacturing capabilities in key fashion segments, particularly synthetic fibre production, given its lead in the global petrochemicals sector. Furthermore, with its leading role in petrochemicals, the Kingdom can potentially play a significant part in the emerging circular fashion economy, reusing and recycling polyamides, and supplying renewable synthetic fabrics and yarns.

Find the full report here
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