For centuries, the textile and clothing sector has been one of the most important in the Latvian economy. It has very culturally significant roots, mostly associated with natural materials, high quality, and a true-to-nature lifestyle and values. For centuries, textile products were also important export commodities in the context of the Hanseatic League and beyond.
In the last century, Latvia was one of the most renowned flax and hemp exporters, with almost 70,000 ha of land devoted to the cultivation of these plants. Flax was Latvia’s second most important income source after timber. Latvian flax and hemp were associated with the highest standards of the time, as innovative and thorough control methods were used to ensure the highest quality of these fibres.
Linen is still an integral part of the Latvian textile industry, also contributing to niche products such as linen ropes or linen for technical uses. Hemp is also regaining its status through the introduction of new insulating and other technical textile materials.
Textile Industry at a glance
Today, the textile sector is an important part of Latvian industry, combining the best of traditional knowhow with industrial and technological knowledge. This expertise has led to the creation of high value-added products such as silver and amber threads.
Around 12 660 people are employed in 2 000 Latvian textile companies, mostly small and medium in size. In 2018 the sector’s contribution to total manufacturing output is 3.2 %.
The main textile industry sub-sectors are lingerie manufacturing, sewing, weaving, technical textile manufacturing, and artisan textile production. The industry is highly export-oriented, particularly the lingerie segment.
The competitive advantages for cooperation with Latvian textile companies are numerous, including short lead times, small and diversified production volumes, as well as price and quality ratio. Reliability and long-term mutually beneficial partnerships have allowed the sector to maintain its positions in the currently highly volatile market.
The industry is dominated by sewing companies that act as outsourced production facilities for EU brands. This is very convenient, as production and delivery times are short and technical capabilities are advanced – from embroidery and laser cutting to waterproof-garment production. Latvian sewing companies provide customized services, including pattern and other design services.
However, there are also a number of local small- and medium-size companies that create their own collections in jersey, knitwear and other materials, pioneering natural and ecological clothing concepts. Similar philosophies and lifestyle attitudes can be found in the workshops of Latvia’s numerous home textile companies – from small to large.
Many world-renowned automotive and airspace companies have benefited from Latvia’s competence in glass fibre production. In this field, Latvia has several highly innovative companies with great potential for further expansion.
Textile Industry trade statistics
Export markets have grown steadily, expanding to 140 countries. Without a doubt, the major market for Latvian textile goods is the EU, where our most important partners are the Baltic and Scandinavian countries.