Based on history, the silk fabric originated in China. The Chinese legend said, silk was invented by Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, who was tagged as the Goddess of Silk. She was the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, who was believed to have ruled China in about 3000 BC.
There are a lot of indigenous varieties of wild silk moths, which is found in different countries. Producing it is a long process that needs constant close attention. To come up with a high quality of silk, there are two important processes that needs to be done. First is to prevent the moth from hatching out. Second is perfecting the diet where the silkworms feed. As where it was said to be originated, the Chinese people developed secret ways to both best.
Over time, silk is considered a luxury item for wealthy people in society given the very meticulous process of producing it. This perspective on the fabric still exist, however, it has eventually changed as it becomes a luxury item as well for the middle-class families for the most part of Europe and the United States.
With a variety of fabrics to choose from, silk only covers a small percentage on the global textile market — with only estimated at about 0.2%. Currently, its production is spread in 60 countries from different parts of the world. Although Asia is still considered as its top producer with 90% mulberry and almost 100% non-mulberry silk production, the silk industry has eventually been established as well in Brazil, Bulgaria, Egypt and Madagascar today.
Globally, the average silk produced per year is about 80,000 tons, 70% of which is said to be produced in China.
Significant Silk Industry Statistics
- The value of the China National Silk Import and Export Corporation alone is $2 to $2.5 billion. (Source: Trade Forum)
- Italy has become the largest importer of the silk fabric in Europe. In 1997 alone, it has imported about 3,200 tons of raw silk and more 700 tons of silk yarn. All came primarily from China. It also imported 300 tons of ladies’ blouses, 80% of which are from China as well. (Source: Trade Forum)
- In 1996 to 1997, total silk scarves exported increased by about 15%, totaling to 586 tons. On the same period, silk neckties exported growth to 1230 tons. (Source: Trade Forum)
- France has also became among the countries with a booming silk processing industry. Over 70% of silk fabrics in the French market are used for clothing. In recent years, silk was also used for interior decorations such as curtains, wall covers, bed sheets and upholstery. Premium silk fabrics from France are exported to the United States with unit price of up to $30 per m2. (Source: Trade Forum)
- In the US market, silk goods are valued at about $2 billion in 1997, 10% of which was used for home furnishing. (Source: Trade Forum)
- The Silk industry provides job opportunities to about 7.9 million people in India, the second largest producer of silk, next to China. In Thailand, it provides livelihood to 20,000 weaving families. (Source: International Sericultural Commission)
- In 2017, China produced a total of 142,000 metric tons of the silk fabric. While India made a total of 31,900 metric tons. Next was Uzbekistan with 1,200 metric tons of silk product. (Source: International Sericultural Commission)
- A total of 177,507 metric tons of silk was produced globally in 2017. The data was higher compared to what was produced in 2013. However, it is lower compared to the total produce in 2015, which was at 202,000 metric tons. (Source: International Sericultural Commission)
- Based on the National Cocoon Silk Office of China, the total area of mulberry field in China was 11.8951 million mu in 2016. It was reduced by 3.4%. (Source: World Silk)
- The seed volume was reduced at 1.8%, totaling to 15.4813 million pieces.
- Still in 2016, the silk cocoon yield was reduced in 1.2% with a total of 0.6204 million tons. While silkworm cocoon acquisition mean price was at RMB38.35 per kilogram, an increase of 12.9%. (Source: World Silk)
- In the past five years prior to 2017, the silkworm cocoon yield declined. Nevertheless, the total yield was kept above the level at 600,000 tons. (Source: World Silk)
- Total raw silk yield in 2016 increased by 0.51% at 158,400 tons compared to the 2015 data. (Source: World Silk)
- On the same year, the silk fabrics produce was at 668,000,000 meters, 5.8% higher than 2015. (Source: World Silk)
- The silk quilt yield was at 20,740,000 pieces, decreased by 14.62% compared to 2015. (Source: World Silk)
- The Silk Fabric and Clothing Manufacturing industry in China has increased by 9.0% over the past five years prior to 2018. (Source: IbisWorld)
- With its growth, it reached a $10 billion revenue in 2018. (Source: IbisWorld)
- At the same period of time, the number of silk business has grown by 0.7%, which translated to an increased employment rate by 1.1% as well. (Source: IbisWorld)
- The companies with most shares in the Silk and Clothing Manufaturing industry are High Fashion International Limited, Zhejiang Jiaxin Silk Co. Ltd., Wensli Group Co. Ltd., Hangzhou Lingxiu Knitting Co. Ltd., and Zhejiang Shenying Group Ltd. (Source: IbisWorld)
- United States is considered as the largest silk importer of silk products in the world to date. Brazil and Uzbekistan are significant producers of raw silk and silk yarn from countries outside the Asia-Pacific region. (Source: Texere Sik)
- Ten percent of United States’ silk imports every year are used for home furnishings. (Source: International Trade Forum Magazine)
- The silk industry provides an approximate of 35 different types of raw materials. It is grouped into three primary grades – which are groups A, B, and C. (Source: Mariann Silk)
- In 2006, China’s silk industry topped its revenue for the first time, amounting to $30 billion. (Source: Fibre2Fashion)
- China being the world’s largest producer of silk has currently have over 2,200 production facilities. About 600 of which produce clothing and textiles from raw materials produced by production centers. (Source: Fibre2Fashion)
- In 2010, the US imported more than $5 billion of silk products from China. (Source: Fibre2Fashion)
Silk Industry Trends and Analysis
Looking at how small the percentage of silk fabric is compared to other textiles in the market today, it is amazing how the industry continues to cope. Slowly staying away from its traditional use and it is “for the wealthy” reputation, it is no doubt the silk industry will always be available in the market.
Today, like the other fabric producers (and other industries in the market today), silk manufacturers innovate by offering a variety of uses – apart from using silk as clothing, is also now used as curtains, wall art, table runners, even as bags and shoes in some countries. With so much to offer, silk will sure never go out of the market.
Regardless of the decrease in its production levels, it is forecasted that the revenue rate will increase at a 9% rate at least until 2024. With continuous improvements, who knows it might become a trend in the future.