IMPACT OF FASHION WORLD WIDE
FASHION WEEK/GLOBAL IMPACT
The fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise that is devoted to the business of making and selling clothes. Some observers distinguish between the fashion industry (high fashion) and the apparel industry (ordinary clothes/mass fashion), by the 1970s the boundaries between them had blurred. Fashion is best defined simply as the style or styles of clothing and accessories worn at any given time by groups of people. While there may appear to be differences between the expensive designer fashions shown on the runways of Paris or New York and the mass-produced sportswear and street styles sold in malls and markets around the world, it is not always easy to differentiate. However, the fashion industry encompasses the design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, retailing, advertising, and promotion of all types of apparel (men’s, women’s, and children’s) from the most rarefied and expensive haute couture and designer fashions to ordinary everyday clothing—from couture ball gowns to Juicy Couture-brand sweatpants. Sometimes the broader term “fashion industries” is used to refer to myriad industries and services that employ millions of people internationally.
Although the fashion industry developed first in Europe and America, today it is an international and highly globalized industry, with clothing often designed in one country, manufactured in another, and sold in a third. For example, an American fashion company might source fabric in China and have the clothes manufactured in Vietnam, finished in Italy, and shipped to a warehouse in the United States for distribution to retail outlets internationally. The fashion industry has long been one of the largest employers in the United States, and it remains so in the 21st century.
Globalization of fashion has grown tremendously within the last decade, with the growing ease and accessibility of the latest fashion trends becoming more available to consumers all over the world. It should come as no shock or surprise of the growing popularity of global designers among this generation of fashion forward youth and the influence they have on them.
The fashion industry has significantly evolved particularly over the last 20 or so years, and with its evolution, more and more global designers have come out on the fashion scene and soared to popularity amongst the masses. Global designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Dior, Comme de Garcons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana are designers, labels and brands that many of us are quite familiar with. These designers, and others, come from an array of different backgrounds, countries and express different culture and aesthetic feel in their clothing, and because of this, they are able to appeal to a wider audience. But this is also an effect of globalization, and its impact on the retail industry. As fashion images
in magazines, music videos, films, the Internet and possibly television speed their way around the world, in effect they create a “global style” spanning borders and cultures. This “global style” is a phenomenon that has only increased over the years and has impacted consumers and the retail industry as we know it. Fashion is constantly moving, changing and being reinvented and reinterpreted by designers from all over the world, and because of this there is a greater demand from us as the consumers to gain access to all of the newest trends and styles in the fashion world, and thanks to globalization this has become possible.
Globalization distributes the institutional features of modernity across all and has created an open market and free trade amongst countries to make fashion more readily available between one another, and as such, the retail industry has used this to their advantage. Some examples of this are retailers like Hennes and Mauritz (H & M), Topshop and Target teaming up with popular designers and creating clothing collections that are easily accessible and affordable to the fashion conscious consumers. Possibly the best example of this type of globalization in marketing is Target’s collaborations with several designers. And as a result has been having much success with their International Line. They are collaborating with designers and labels like Missoni, Gaultier, Libertine, Alexander McQueen and others. This global apparel market is a consumer driven industry and the move for Target to collaborate with well-known global designers is but one step that could help further market the idea for the retail industry to capitalize on fashion and appeal to mass market.
Consumers generally consider the global fashion industry to be the retail sale of apparel around the world. However, the industry, as a business, is much broader and includes not only clothing, footwear and accessories, but the natural textiles and man-made fabrics from which they are produced, as well as manufacturing, importing and exporting, marketing and promotion, wholesale distribution, retail and branding.
The global fashion industry is dependent on ever-changing trends that keep consumers, driven by the need to wear the latest, buying. However, this means that goods have a short shelf life, requiring manufacturers, designers and retailers to meet tight production schedules and distribution deadlines. This also gives trendsetters, such as celebrities, key roles in successful marketing and promotions.
In a global market place, the fashion industry is highly competitive. While parts of the developing world, such as the Asian-Pacific markets and Africa, are dominant in the manufacturing and export segments of the industry, even they are being squeezed out by neighboring China, which is claiming a majority stake by offering quality goods at cheaper prices.
Yet, media images of the celebrity lifestyle, including what stars are wearing, and the touting of designer brands have retail consumers demanding access to the same styles. Clothes buyers are increasingly status-conscious and seek out the latest styles worn by cultural icons. This puts additional pressure on the industry while also providing new opportunity for growth.
It is found that more and more that the fashion industry is no longer solely dependent on “brick and mortar” stores for sales. Opportunities for retail sales have expanded through e-commerce, which allows buyers to shop and purchase online. Marketing and promotion also are expanding with the growth of such media trends as social networking and use of technologies such as mobile devices and smart phone applications, which allow for shopping anywhere.
Product branding is an important part of gaining recognition and customer loyalty. This segment of the market, promoted by designers and fashion models, is among the most visible. It also presents greater challenges for lesser known product lines.
I am aware that recently in New York during Fashion Week; one of the designers shook things up featured a model to actually walk the runway in her wheelchair. This was a decision that instead of casting runway models to cast role models. It would be wonderful if more of the designers around the globe would include these role models in their fashion shows as well. I feel that it would be so important that women have a positive body image, and for those with disabilities it would be such a boost to their confidence and to know if that model could do it they could strive for the same look and dispel any negative vibes and feelings they have due to their “disability”. These “real people” need to be included not excluded in all aspects of the fashion industry.
It is past time to include people of all ethnicities, sizes, and shapes. It’s past time to include people with disabilities. And this is just the beginning.