The history of Iranian textiles in their traditional form dates back to the 10th millennium BCE.
According to the excavations obtained by archaeologists in the excavations of some Iranian ancient cities, such as Susa, Kashan, etc., the beginning of spinning and weaving in Iran can be traced back to about the 10th millennium BCE.
Iran also has been one of the pioneers in dying fabrics. Furthermore, Iran has always been known worldwide for its stunning handwoven carpets, and much of the output of Persia’s weavers has rightly been hailed as masterworks.
The long history of the textile industry in Iran and presence of the required raw materials, such as cotton and synthetic fibers, as well as a cheap workforce, adds to the importance of the Iranian Textile Industry.
Prior to the Islamic Revolution’s victory, Iran’s textile and clothing industry had a special place in the Middle East; it had the most employment rate and created a suitable production chain between agriculture and consumption. However, some problems in this industry stopped its growing trend toward modern technology in the world. At present, many Iranian factories are operating with machines made in the last fifty years. It should be noted that some factories are more than 70 years old. Despite all these issues, Iran’s textile industry still has a lot of potentials for improvement.
As mentioned, the Iranian textile industry has experienced fluctuations in the market and its production in recent years for various reasons, and even some of its large companies and factories have faced a recession and have gone to the brink of bankruptcy. Utilization of worn-out machines, excessive imports, lack of liquidity and smuggling of goods, activities of intermediaries, and monopolies are among the major problems facing the Iranian textile and clothing industry.
On the other hand, the increasing inflation and the decrease in society’s purchasing power have reduced the share of clothing in the basket of Iranian household items. Therefore, by examining the different aspects of the issue, the most important strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats identified in the textile and clothing industry are as follows:
- Skilled labor
- Historical background as well as art and high expertise in textile production
- Existence of some important domestic brands
- High production capacity of raw materials of the textile industry
- Presence of old and robust factories and private organizations
- Low-cost employment
- High qualified universities and the increasing trend of specialized human resources entering the industry
- Innovation of some industrialist and as a result stimulating qualitative and quantitative demand
- High production costs and cost prices compared to competing countries in recent years
- Lack of development and modernization of the downstream layers of the textile finishing industry, garment production, services, and distribution systems
- Highly traditional, inefficient, unorganized, and dispersed wholesale and retail distribution networks and its high cost and share of textile supply chains without providing the necessary value-added services
- Lack of the required support for the national textiles and clothing brands and, as a result, the lack of a robust domestic brand (weakening branding)
- Cultural and social restrictions in product design and creation of cultural and fashion content in textiles and clothing based on market demand
- Void of targeting and vision at the level of enterprises in this industry
- Culture of using foreign goods
- Weakness in designing products based on market demand
- Using old and worn machines in production
- Lack of up-to-date production technology for some products
- Lack of roadmap and clarification of the duties of institutions in the development of textiles and clothing
- Possibility and ability to export all textile and clothing goods
- The possibility of growth and development of industry in the field of new technologies and production of high-tech textiles
- Existence of a significant domestic consumption market with a young population consuming clothing
- Possibility of exporting to the target markets of Europe as well as the presence of the regional clothing market
- Increasing competitiveness due to the increase in textile production costs in China and Turkey
- Ability of rapid industrial growth due to the localization of most sub-sectors
- Increasing export duties on raw materials of the textile industry
- Cheap labor compared to competitors
- Potential expansion capacity in the conditions of sanctions
- Continuous increase in the cost price of textiles and domestic clothing compared to imports due to the rise in production costs and effective real currency conversion rate (increasing the exchange rate reduces producers’ access to raw materials and thus reduces liquidity)
- Extensive smuggling and illegal import, especially as a trademarked product with counterfeit trademarks
- The existing sanctions restrict access to target export markets, as well as lack of foreign investment, and weak global technical, financial, and trade relations.
- Lack of participation of producers in the supply chain
- The culture of using foreign goods
- Existence of severe insurance and tax pressures
- Improper departure of raw materials from the country
- Having trademark by international competitors
- Impossibility of monetary and financial interactions with other countries
- Lack of cotton production in the country
- No criminalization or no severe confrontation with the suppliers of smuggled clothes
- Lack of government investment in infrastructure based on the industry requirements
In recent years, the Iranian government has enacted laws banning the import of a number of goods, including textiles and clothing. According to this policy, the import of clothing has been banned for about two years. This puts the garment industry out of competition and makes it a local industry. The impact of the import ban during the implementation of this law has been such that the market of legally imported brands has fallen into the hands of domestic producers.
However, it is expected that some of these goods will still be smuggled into the country. According to industry experts, today, clothing has become a domestic industry and cannot be exported. Although this policy favors the manufacturer, in general, it is not in favor of industry. In fact, it is detrimental to society and people because they have to buy more expensive goods.
According to the national statistics, Iran’s textile industry has the highest employment level in the country. On the other hand, textile in Iran is a native industry and can have a lot of added value. In fact, if the problems facing the textile industry are removed, no industry will create as much employment and added value.
Finally, it should be declared that the vision of the textile and clothing industry in the year 2025 is depicted as follows: “Achieving the third position of the textile industry in the Middle East and reaching the 50th place in the world by relying on competitiveness, modernization and investment along with technology development and improving the productivity of production factors”.