Fashion | News & Insights


Published: February 21, 2022

Textile prices, like many raw materials, are soaring on resurgent demand, and the rocketing cost of energy and transport, industry experts say.

The price of cotton, linen, silk and wool, as well as synthetic materials derived from petroleum, have in the past few months surged, boosted also by the global supply-chain crunch.

As a result, red-hot inflation has become a major talking point at the industry’s London Fashion Week showpiece, which runs until Thursday. Price hikes represent a new challenge for the industry, which was first struck by Brexit and then by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The textile and clothing industry noticed an impressive surge in cotton prices,” the European association of textile producers, Euratex, said in a statement.

“The restart of activity worldwide in 2021 and the increased demand from the textile industry have accelerated the mechanism of [market] tension on raw materials,” it added. “This has resulted in a shortage and rising material costs.”

Cotton, which had last year surged almost 50 percent, peaked earlier this month at US$1.29 per pound, a level last seen in 2011. Organic cotton from key producer India has experienced buoyant demand due to low stockpiles.

The cost of wool and flax linen rebounded between September 2020 and June last year, following an almost three-year decline. The industry has also been spooked by the sky-high cost of oil.

“The increase in oil prices has affected the prices of synthetic fibers … as these are produced from petroleum-based chemicals or petrochemicals,” Euratex said.

Oil had threatened to top US$100 per barrel last week on simmering tensions between Ukraine and key crude producer Russia.

“The ongoing upswing in oil prices is lending buoyancy because it increases the price of synthetic fibers that compete with cotton,” Commerzbank AG analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

The price of synthetic fibers, such as acrylics, nylon and polyester, has shot up. Textiles also face the same snarled-up supply chains that have plagued economies worldwide.

Retailers and manufacturers are expected to struggle to meet rebounding demand, particularly for cotton, commentators have said.

“Demand is strong amid inflation concerns and logistical issues that make it harder for world buyers to source any cotton anywhere,” Price Group analyst Jack Scoville said.

Importers and exporters face a huge spike in transport costs, as reopening economies create feverish demand for container shipping.

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