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The world's appetite for the office shirt is growing

A supplier to global fashion labels says the return to office has resulted in a big demand for formal shirts

From Ralph Lauren's spring-summer 2022 collection (Courtesy Ralph Lauren/Instagram)

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Ciel Textile, a supplier to fashion labels including Ralph Lauren Corp, Levi Strauss & Co. and Marks & Spencer Group Plc, sees its shirt sales jumping 50% over the next five years as business rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mauritius-based company produces about 20 million shirts a year and is the biggest contributor of revenue to parent group CIEL Ltd, according to the unit’s chief executive officer, Eric Dorchies. “The trend remains favorable and our order books are full for the first semester of fiscal year 2022/2023,” he said.

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Rising demand is being fuelled by a return to offices in financial centers such as New York and London, Dorchies said, forcing many employees to refresh their formal wardrobes. Other buyers include Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger, alongside South African department store chain Woolworths Holdings Ltd, the CEO said.

CIEL Textile revenue surged 48% to 15.45 billion rupees ($338 million) in the year through June, while profits advanced 19%, according to an earnings statement from CIEL Ltd., the parent company. 

The manufacturer is taking a cautious approach to short-term forecasts though, due to “the high probability of a global recession,” Dorchies said.

After starting in Mauritius 50 years ago and growing into the country’s biggest textiles producer, the company invested in new factories in Madagascar, Bangladesh and India, with 23,000 employees. India is the firm’s main production center with seven factories and 9,000 employees, helping to position CIEL Textile as a global supplier, the CEO said. The group also makes fabrics and knitwear. 

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