By Astrid Wendlandt
PARIS (Reuters) - France's fashion and fashion-related businesses such as jewels, eyewear, watches and high-end cosmetics generate more sales than its aerospace and automobile industries, according to a study commissioned by the French Fashion Institute, IFM.
It said annual sales generated by fashion-related businesses based in France totaled 150 billion euros ($170 billion), compared with 102 billion for aerospace and 39 billion euros for cars.
The study, by independent economists and statisticians from France's national statistics institute Insee, also used official customs data.
"This industry is very much under-estimated by public authorities," said Ralph Toledano, head of fashion brands Nina Ricci and Jean-Paul Gaultier and chairman of the French Federation of couture, ready-to-wear and fashion designers.
"The French are not very conscious of the weight the country's lifestyle industries represents... Abroad, I can assure you that people do not talk about Airbus but rather about Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent."
The French Federation of couture, ready-to-wear and fashion designers presented the study together with France's ready-to-wear federation.
The study said fashion-related businesses employed directly at least 580,000 people in France and more than 1 million people when taking into account ancilliary jobs such as communications, modeling and marketing.
It also highlighted the economic importance of Paris' six fashion weeks a year -- two for ready-to-wear, two for menswear and two for couture -- saying they generated altogether 10.3 billion euros in annual sales.
Paris fashion weeks also bring in 1.2 billion euros in revenues from visitors staying at its hotels, eating at its restaurants, spending money on cabs and other services, as well as spending on fashion shows themselves.
The study finally established that French fashion brands and foreign brands with French controlling shareholders generated together 70 billion euros in annual sales which included revenues from overseas.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)