India, China And Türkiye Face Decline In Knit T-Shirt Exports, But Opportunities Abound

Even as India, China and Türkiye face challenges such as declining export values and shifting market dynamics, opportunities for growth and adaptation abound, particularly in emerging markets, writes Henry Dsouza, Associate Editor, Textile Insights

The global export outlook of knit T-shirts reflects shifts in consumer demand, economic conditions and trade dynamics. From India’s resilience to China’s dominance and Türkiye’s strategic approach, each player adds a unique dimension to this evolving market narrative.

In this study, we explore into recent trends, challenges and opportunities in the knit T-shirt export market. Through analysis and insights, we uncover the strategies shaping success in this competitive global arena.

India’s Knit T-Shirt Export Trend
India, a major player in the global apparel market, witnessed a noteworthy 18% decline in knit T-shirt exports in 2023, with the value dropping from US$ 2551.36 million to US$ 2093.39 million. Despite this setback, knit T-shirts retained their status as the second-largest exported commodity in the apparel segment and the fourth-largest within the broader T&C segment in India.

Cotton knit T-shirts dominated India’s export portfolio, comprising a substantial 75% share of total knit T-shirt exports valued at US$ 1561.29 million. However, this segment experienced a significant decline of 17.28% in 2023. T-shirts made of other textile material exports from India, totaled US$ 532.10 million in 2023. However, this represented a significant drop of 19.9% compared to the previous year.

The United States emerged as India’s top export destination, accounting for 29% of total knit T-shirt exports from India. Exports to the USA totaled US$ 611.83 million in 2023, a drop of 20.1% in export value over the previous year. The United States was followed by the UAE and Germany. Despite challenges, India continues to navigate the global market with its diverse range of knit T-shirt offerings.

China: A Powerhouse in Knit T-Shirt Exports
China, renowned for its manufacturing prowess, experienced a marginal 2.62% decline in knit T-shirt exports in 2023, with a total export value of US$ 9101.58 million. Notably, T-shirts made from other textile materials constituted the bulk of China’s exports, capturing a commanding 52% share of the knit T-shirt market.

While cotton knit T-shirts remained a significant export item, accounting for 48% of total exports valued at US$ 4334.41 million, their value dropped by 6.58% in 2023. The USA and Japan emerged as key export destinations for China, albeit with reduced export values compared to previous years.

Surprisingly, emerging markets like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam showcased substantial growth rates, highlighting shifting trade dynamics in the knit T-shirt segment. Kazakhstan experienced a remarkable growth of 312.41% in 2023, with T-shirt exports reaching US$ 334.94 million compared to US$ 81.21 million in 2022. Kazakhstan now holds a 4% share of China’s total knit T-shirt exports.

Both Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam also saw substantial growth in China’s knit T-shirt exports. Exports to Kyrgyzstan surged by 44.22% to US$ 293.42 million, while exports to Vietnam rose by 72.88% to US$ 225.53 million in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Türkiye’s Resilience amid Challenges
Türkiye, a tough contender in knit T-shirt exports, experienced a modest 2.58% decline in 2023, with total exports valued at US$ 2688.37 million. Cotton knit T-shirts remained Türkiye’s flagship export, comprising a dominant 67% share of total knit T-shirt exports valued at US$ 1798.03 million.

Germany emerged as the primary market for Türkiye’s knit T-shirts. Exports totaled US$ 492.74 million in 2023, but dropped by 14.18% over the previous year. Germany stakes a share of 18% of the total knit T-shirt exports of Türkiye.

Followed by Germany are Spain and the UK. Despite challenges posed by global economic fluctuations, Türkiye continues to leverage its manufacturing expertise and strategic market positioning to maintain its foothold in the competitive knit T-shirt landscape.

Navigating the Complexities of Global Trade
The global knit T-shirt export landscape is characterized by nuanced trends and evolving consumer preferences. While established players like India, China and Türkiye face challenges such as declining export values and shifting market dynamics, opportunities for growth and adaptation abound, particularly in emerging markets.

As the industry adapts to technological advancements, sustainability imperatives and changing consumer behaviour, strategic agility and innovation will be essential for stakeholders to thrive in this dynamic ecosystem. By embracing these challenges as opportunities for transformation, knit T-shirt exporters can chart a strong path forward in the global marketplace.

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