That dollar amount reflects a 7.8% increase for all T-shirt exporters over the five-year period starting in 2017 when exported T-shirts were worth $44.6 billion.
Year over year, revenues from globally exported T-shirts accelerated by 18.3% compared to $40.6 billion during 2020.
The 5 biggest exporters of knitted or crocheted t-shirts are mainland China, Bangladesh, Germany, Turkey and Vietnam. Collectively, that quintet generated 47.4% of total international sales for knitted or crocheted t-shirts.
Among continents, suppliers in Asia sold the highest dollar worth of exports for knitted or crocheted T-shirts (inclusive of all types of materials) during 2021 with shipments valued at $26.8 billion or 55.9% of overall T-shirt exports. In second place were European shippers at 31.5%.
Smaller percentages of total t-shirt exports were sourced from Latin America (5.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, North America (4.2%), Africa (2.8%) then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Most Popular T-Shirt Materials
Cotton is the dominant material used in t-shirt manufacturing. Cotton t-shirts accounted for $33.6 billion in international sales or well over two-thirds (70.1%) of total exported t-shirts. Similar apparel made from textiles other than cotton equaled $14.4 billion for the remaining 29.9%.
International sales of exported t-shirts made from cotton grew by 21.5% from 2020 to 2021. International revenues from t-shirts comprised of non-cotton materials rose by a slower rate (up 11.3%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for knitted or crocheted t-shirts is 6109. Drilling down, cotton T-shirts fall under 610910 while t-shirts made from other materials are categorized as 610990.
T-shirt Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of t-shirts (regardless of source materials) during 2021.
- China: US$7.7 billion (16.1% of total t-shirt exports)
- Bangladesh: $7.2 billion (15%)
- Germany: $2.78 billion (5.8%)
- Turkey: $2.7 billion (5.6%)
- Vietnam: $2.4 billion (4.9%)
- India: $2.3 billion (4.9%)
- Italy: $2 billion (4.1%)
- Netherlands: $1.42 billion (2.9%)
- Belgium: $1.41 billion (2.9%)
- Spain: $1.26 billion (2.6%)
- France: $1.17 billion (2.4%)
- Mexico: $1.08 billion (2.2%)
- Portugal: $990.6 million (2.1%)
- Poland: $959.4 million (2%)
- United States: $886.7 million (1.8%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 75.5% of global t-shirt exports in 2021.
Among the above countries, the fastest-growing t-shirt exporters since 2020 were: United States of America (up 40.9%), Mexico (up 38%), Poland (up 28%) and Portugal (up 25.2%).
The mildest increase year over year was the flatlining 1.2% upturn for Vietnam.
Cotton T-shirt Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of cotton T-shirts during 2021.
- Bangladesh: US$6.5 billion (19.2% of exported cotton t-shirts)
- China: $3.9 billion (11.5%)
- Germany: $2 billion (5.9%)
- Turkey: $1.9 billion (5.5%)
- India: $1.7 billion (5%)
- Italy: $1.6 billion (4.7%)
- Vietnam: $1.5 billion (4.4%)
- Netherlands: $1.1 billion (3.4%)
- Spain: $997.4 million (3%)
- France: $899.8 million (2.7%)
- Belgium: $867.3 million (2.6%)
- Portugal: $825.9 million (2.5%)
- Poland: $771.2 million (2.3%)
- Mexico: $757.4 million (2.3%)
- United States: $740.9 million (2.2%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 77.1% of globally exported cotton t-shirts in 2021.
Among the above countries, the fastest-growing exporters of cotton t-shirts since 2020 were: Mexico (up 47.9%), United States of America (up 45%), Poland (up 32%) and Portugal (up 31%).
The most modest increase in exported cotton t-shirts sales belongs to the Netherlands thanks to a still respectable 13% gain compared to 2020.
Non-Cotton Textile T-shirt Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that, during 2021, exported the highest dollar value worth of T-shirts made from textile materials other than cotton.
- China: US$3.9 billion (27% of exported non-cotton t-shirts)
- Vietnam: $880.4 million (6.1%)
- Turkey: $847.7 million (5.9%)
- Germany: $803.6 million (5.6%)
- Bangladesh: $723.1 million (5%)
- India: $649.2 million (4.5%)
- Belgium: $538.4 million (3.7%)
- Cambodia: $391.3 million (2.7%)
- Italy: $366.2 million (2.5%)
- Mexico: $306.7 million (2.1%)
- Pakistan: $290.6 million (2%)
- Netherlands: $282.2 million (2%)
- France: $268.6 million (1.9%)
- Spain: $264.9 million (1.8%)
- Indonesia: $254.3 million (1.8%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 74.8% of globally exported non-cotton t-shirts in 2021.
Among the above countries, the fastest-growing exporters of non-cotton t-shirts since 2020 were: Pakistan (up 88.4%), India (up 37%), mainland China (up 25.4%) and Mexico (up 19.4%).
Four countries posted declines in their exports of non-cotton t-shirts namely Belgium (down -15.8%), Vietnam (down -15%), Spain (down -2.9%) and Italy (down -0.1%).
T-shirt Exporting Companies
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following suppliers are examples of established T-shirt companies.
- Fab Collections Limited (Bangladesh)
- Herbert Georg Santura (Portugal)
- Idea Group IGM SRL (Italy)
- Luxiberg (France)
- Nanchang Dongshen Knitted Garment Co, Ltd (China)
- NFS Trade International (Germany)
- PBM Polytex Limited (India)
- Ruma North America Group S de RL de CV (Mexico)
- Sky Apparel Limited (Turkey)
- Vietgo Company Limited (Vietnam)
The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses.
See also T-shirt Imports by Country, Top Fur Clothing Exporters Plus Average Prices for Furskin Clothes, Cotton Imports by Country and Top Exported Baby Clothing Sales
Alibaba, Supplier showroom for T-shirts. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 14, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Wikipedia, T-shirt. Accessed on July 14, 2022