Skip to navigationSkip to content
Carlo Cadenas for Quartz
COMING UNRAVELED

Jean production shows how Covid-19 has devastated the fashion industry

Marc Bain
Member exclusive by Marc Bain for Global trade, rerouted

Earlier this year, when Covid-19 shut down much of China, fashion supply chains slammed to a halt. It wasn’t just because China is the world’s largest clothing producer, accounting for about 32% of all clothing exported in 2018 based on World Trade Organization data—nearly five times the share of second-place Bangladesh.

Critically, China also produces most of the raw materials that factories in other countries depend on to stitch together finished garments.

The fabric, buttons, zippers, and leather patches on the jeans in your closet most likely originated in China, even if the tag indicates the jeans themselves were made—that is, cut and sewn—in a country such as Vietnam or Turkey. So when China implemented strict lockdown measures to control its outbreak of the new coronavirus, companies beyond its borders that were making jeans took a serious hit.

You are reading a Quartz member exclusive.

Become a member to keep reading this story and the rest of our expert analyses on the changing global economy.

Why we think you’ll like it:

The rest of our guide to Global trade, rerouted

News of the moment that’s contextualized, digestible, and always global in perspective

Exclusive, deeply researched guides on what the economy’s next normal will look like

Master this transition in your work and personal life through direct access to our journalists and the rest of our community