Industry Overview

The Scottish textile industry has a reputation around the world for its quality, diversity and design excellence and in the creation of globally recognised products and brands, such as Scottish Cashmere and Harris Tweed.


Key facts

The Scottish textile sector currently employs in the region of 8,800 people across 527 businesses manufacturing textiles, apparel and leather products.

The sector remains an important contributor to the economy, with annual turnover of £838 million. Exports of Scottish textile products are valued at £365 million.

In fashion and interior textiles Scotland operates in over 100 markets worldwide with major emphasis on the USA, Japan, Russia and Europe. In technical textiles, Scotland is home to global businesses such as:

  • Ahlstrom
  • WL Gore
  • DuPont
  • Don & Low
  • Scott & Fyfe
  • J&D Wilkie
  • Bonar


Scottish textile companies invest more in research and development (R&D) than other textile businesses in rest of the UK. 32 per cent of employment in the sector is in high value jobs, such as design, sales and technical management. This rise from 15 per cent in 2000 reflects the changing profile within the sector towards higher value jobs and more emphasis on design and technical skills.

Geographically the sector has a strong concentration of businesses involved in the manufacture and sale of luxury cashmere in the Scottish Borders, as well as companies working with geo and technical textiles in Tayside. The remaining businesses are spread throughout the Central Belt, Glasgow and the South West, and 30 per cent are located in rural areas.

The Scottish clothing industry is characterised by niche design-led labels and supply chain expertise. Ninety per cent of companies are Scottish-owned, while the majority of those that are foreign-owned continue to have their decision makers based in Scotland.