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Overview

Quality and ideas from the Austrian fashion and textile sector are in demand: hats from a Viennese hat maker can be found on the shelves of Le Bon Marché (Paris), Isetan or HP France (Tokyo) and are worn by Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Madonna and Yoko Ono. Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Michelle Obama have developed a taste for Austrian fashion design. The lightest sunglasses in the world are made in Austria and the largest integrated cellulose and viscose fibre plant in the world is located here.

In Austria, there are more than 280 textile companies with around 12,000 employees. The high export rate of 80% proves that Austrian textiles have a good reputation worldwide. The main sales market is Europe. For the embroidery companies from Vorarlberg, Africa is the most important export market: More than half of the embroidery products go to Nigeria.

In addition to textiles for the clothing industry, home and technical textiles are also important. Some companies from this industry are even global market leaders, for instance in the area of terry cloth products or in the production of industrially manufactured, high-quality cellulose fibres. The share of technical textiles in the overall turnover of the Austrian textile industry now already accounts for more than 50%.

The domestic fashion landscape is characterised by micro companies; the designers serve different niches. Austrian fashion is characterised by an artistic orientation and high-quality craftsmanship and material. Many Austrian labels and designers are very popular on the Asian market. As the buyers there like to experiment, the Austrian "avant-garde" style of fashion is particularly well received.

Far away from other fashion capitals, Austrian designers can develop their own ideas, without having to enter into any compromises. The small size of most of these companies makes them extremely flexible, a characteristic that is very important in critical times.

One challenge for the industry: There is a dwindling number of qualified, low-cost production firms that can meet the requirements of the domestic fashion scene. That is why the production of prototypes and collections is increasingly being moved abroad. Although this development potentially leads to cost savings, this is countered by a substantially increased entrepreneurial risk.

History

Austrian fashion has a long tradition that has its origin in the Habsburg monarchy. For instance, in 1858, the very first gentleman's label and at the same time the mother of all flagship stores was opened. With stores in Vienna, Berlin, Carlsbad and Paris, all designed by Adolf Loos, the men's outfitter was the first fashion label to position itself as an international label rather than a Viennese label.

For 250 years, diverse pieces of embroidery have been produced in the west of Austria, in Vorarlberg. The many family-run businesses are resilient to crises because their structure facilitates outstanding quality, flexible division of work, prompt delivery fulfilment and personal market development.

Wearables and technical textiles

Over the next few years, the emerging market for wearable technologies offers a lot of potential, particularly in the areas of health, entertainment, industry and safety. Wearables in textiles, e.g. a blood pressure measuring device that is worn on the arm for a lengthy period of time, carry out smart services and are often directly connected with the Internet.

Technical textiles such as protective textiles, textiles for use in industry, medical textiles, textile products for building constructions or interior design for automotive and aviation have very special importance in the Austrian textile industry. The country is the leading European country in this area.

Ethics

For numerous domestic fashion labels, the responsibility for people and the environment is very important, particularly with regard to the production. During production, they take the following into account

  • the use of organic cotton
  • FAIRTRADE and GOTS certification
  • a transparent and verifiable production chain
  • maximum social justice in production
  • maximum possible environmental compatibility
  • maximum possible quality for wearers

Passion

Excellent fashion training at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where since the beginning of the 1980s international stars such as Karl Lagerfeld, Jil Sander, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor & Rolf, Raf Simons and Bernhard Willhelm have held or currently hold the professorship has helped fashion from Austria to today compete with the very best in the international fashion world.

Last modified
19. March 2018
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