Fashion, Clothing & Footwear sector in Ireland

Fashion garments

Fashion, Clothing & Footwear sector in Ireland

Ireland’s export market for UK fashion, clothing and footwear exports is worth about £1.2 billion annually.

Market overview

Ireland is the UK’s 5th largest export market and the UK’s largest export market in a number of sectors including clothing, fashion & footwear.

Ireland is also the world’s largest importer of UK fashion and textiles.

If you are a UK exporter of clothing, fashion & footwear there are fantastic opportunities in Ireland. With similar fashion tastes to those of the UK, our temperate climates and cultures, we have much in common when it comes to fashion choices.

With close sea and air links, the same language and similar regulatory frameworks – Ireland is an ideal first step market for UK fashion exporters.

The Irish market size is estimated at approximately 5% of the UK market based on a population comparison. We have a population of just over 4.6million.

Key opportunities

Despite economic difficulties Ireland is facing, there are still significant opportunities in the market for UK companies;

  • Ireland’s population is at record levels and the country continues to boast the highest birth rate in the European Union. In particular there are opportunities around this for UK companies operating in the area aimed at the baby – children’s market.

  • Parents spend an average of €744 on First Holy Communion celebrations. Although spending is down 25% from 2011, on average, 43% of this goes towards clothing for this event. Approximately 60,000 children made their Communion in 2012, placing €27.9m worth of purchasing power in the hands of young communicants, who have a combined estimated €13.3m in savings accounts or piggy banks.

  • More consumers are flocking to chains that sell cheap fashionable clothes, referred to as ‘disposable’ clothes. Despite a drop in discretionary spend, consumers are still purchasing clothes on a monthly basis but are opting for ‘disposable’ items from high street shops including Dunnes Stores, Tesco and the discounters.

  • There still remains a viable market in Ireland for “investment” clothing pieces, those of a very high quality which boast the high price tag to match.

Latest export opportunities in the Clothing, Fashion and Footwear sector

Latest export opportunities in Ireland

Getting into the market

The most popular route to market options includes:

  • Agent/Commission Agent

  • Importer/Distributor

  • Direct Sales

Using agents or distributors is a common route to market for many companies. If you are looking at these routes, you should consider whether they act for competitors and what their terms and commission charges are likely to be. Ideally, you should know what you will be expecting of them in terms of volume of sales over a given period.

  • Agent or Commission Agent

The agent is your representative in the Irish market and will operate on a commission basis. The agent sells your product and forwards orders to you whereupon you deliver the products. You invoice the customer directly. Prices quoted to customers should include the agent’s commission charges. Typically, the commission charge is 10% but it can vary from 2.5% to 15%. You normally pay your agent after the customer has paid you. Remember that you will have to invoice each customer so getting paid is not straightforward.

  • Importer and/or a Distributor

The main difference between this route and using an agent is that the importer/distributor actually buys the goods from you and sells them on at a price that includes a mark-up.

  • Direct Sales

In this case, you supply your customers directly from your facility. If you use this route, you should consider setting up a separate Irish website (e.g. with a .ie suffix) to promote and sell your products.

More about doing business in Ireland


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in Food and Drink Sector

Major Events

Dublin Fashion Festival

Date: September 2014

Website address:

Cork Fashion Week

Date: September 2014

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Belfast Fashion Week

Date: October 2014

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Futura Fair

RDS Dublin

Date: 17 – 18 August 2014

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RDS Dublin

Date: 19 – 22 January 2014

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Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Clothing & Footwear
Countries: Ireland
Export Action Plan