Lithuanian potential in Lithuanian textile and clothing: workers’ skills last for decades

Foreign correspondents see a great amount of potential in Lithuanian textile and clothing. While discussing the sector, they focus on tradition and its positive impact on today’s industry.

Firstly, they stress the booming of the industry during the Soviet regime. In 1944 Lithuania became a USSR state. Monolithic factories, which employed several thousand people, helped supply military and school uniforms. Through necessity the country became the region’s textile capital. And although the USSR collapsed in 1991, the machines and skilled work force remained.

The sector has prospered since the country gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. As a result, it is now one of Lithuania’s most important industries. In 2005 it accounted for 26% of employment in the manufacturing sector, generated 8.3% of the country’s GDP and contributed 9.2% of the nation’s exports.

“While the Soviet regime didn’t last, the workers’ skills did”, therefore notes Josh Fehnert, the deputy editor of Monocle. The new generation is using that to keep the country at the forefront at the garment manufacturing industry.

The Lithuanian Clothing and Textile Association (LATIA) that represents clothing and textile sector initiated cluster “LATIA export development”. This cluster consists of 10 companies and aims to find new foreign markets to create an innovative product line. The cluster members emphasize sustainability, functionality and ergonomics of the products.

The main focus is quality, says Mikaela Aitkin, a freelance journalist. “LTM Garments”, one of the cluster’s “LATIA export development” companies, can take anywhere from six to 12 months to turn sketches into stock, meaning that the number of clients the company can take is limited. Nevertheless, it shows an admirable outlook of the manufacturers – they choose quality over quantity.

Mikaela also notices that the pool of employment in tailoring and dressmaking is unfortunately decreasing. It is not only a Lithuanian problem; it is rather worldwide. Nevertheless, the clothing manufacturing industry is a point of pride for Lithuanians and the one they will work hard to maintain. Nowadays the sector contains more than 1,000 companies of the highest international standards and more than 25,000 highly technology-skilled and multilingual employees.

The Lithuanian textile sector is one of the most specialized and diversified textile manufacturing industries within the EU. It is able to provide very specific products and make needed quality tests, since The Lithuanian Textile Institute conducts more than 60 technology tests for quality, hygienic and environmental requirements. The sector is furthermore export oriented with more than 76% of production goes to export. Short production time, flexibility, and good delivery terms make the local companies attractive for varies orders, whether it is mass or small scale production with large varieties.

This text has been prepared as part of the project Cluster LATIA Export Development, funded under Measure 3 of Priority 3 “Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Business Competitiveness” of the European Union Funds Investment Operational Program 2014-2020. 03.2.1-LVPA-K-807 Business Cluster LT Project Financing Terms Description Nr. 2