Fashion industry in Catalonia faces challenges as political uncertainty increases

After this weekend’s regional elections in Catalonia, Spain, which were won by pro-independence parties, the fashion and textile sector in the area is facing a new economic and political challenge. Catalonia is home to a number of global fashion companies as well as smaller designer brands, which could be negatively affected in the case of an independence declaration from Spain.

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The fashion industry, including textiles, footwear, jewellery and leather goods, accounts for 7.5% of Catalonia’s PIB, according to 2013 data from the institution Clúster Catalán de la Moda.

Catalonia generates also 20% of the Spanish GDP. The value of the Catalonian fashion industry is above the national average, and the unemployment rate reaches in the region 19.1% of the active population, 3% less than the national unemployment rate.

Global brands such as Mango, Pronovias, Desigual, Tous and Custo have headquarters in Catalonia, while emerging labels include Nice Things, Bissú and Yerse. In 2013, the fashion industry accounted for 2,800 businesses and 60,000 workers in the area.

The polarised political situation is increasingly posting challenges for these businesses, which will have to find solutions in case of a possible independence declaration. Last week, Pronovias’s CEO said the results of the regional elections could force the leading wedding gowns producer to relocate its business.

Barcelona has become a hub of luxury brands and leading fashion companies. According to Global Blue, the stores at Barcelona’s Paseo de Gracia, in the centre of the city, account for 29% of the total revenue of luxury brands in Spain.

International labels such as Uniqlo, Phillip Plein and North Sails have recently opened in Barcelona their first store in the country. Barcelona’s good image, which attracts 25% of the tourists visiting Spain, is another factor that keeps this city as one of Spain’s most important fashion centres.

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