Can it adapt to changing times?
The global fashion business is going through a period of intense change and competition, with disruption coming in many colors: global online marketplaces, slower growth, more startups and consumers who now seem bored by what once excited them. Many U.S. shoppers have grown tired of buying Prada and Chanel suits and prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than clothes. Questions about fashion companies’ labor and environmental practices are leading to new policies, although some critics remain unconvinced. Fashion still relies on creativity, innovation and consumer attention, some of which comes from technology and some from celebrities.
Here are some key takeaways:
High-fashion brands must now compete with “fast fashion,” apparel sold on eBay and vintage sites.
Risk factors for fashion companies include China’s growth slowdown, reduced global trade, Brexit, terrorist attacks and erratic commodity prices.
Plus-size women are a growing segment of the market, yet critics say designers are ignoring them.
Agins, Teri, “Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers,” Avery, 2014. A fashion writer explores the growth of celebrity fashion brands and their impact—much of it negative—on the rest of the business.
Callahan, Maureen, “Champagne Supernovas: Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ‘90s Renegades who Remade Fashion,” Touchstone, 2015. A journalist explores a “creative brew of art, decadence and genius” at a defining moment in the industry as change blows hard through fashion.
Chaney, Lisa, “Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life,” Viking, 2011. This biography goes beyond the creative business person to profile a woman who feels love, loss and the sting of changing expectations and economic conditions.
Cline, Elizabeth L., “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,” Portfolio, 2013. Fast fashion leads to overfull closets and enormous waste, according to a journalist, who looks at how and why this is happening.
Bernard, Katherine, “Paris Couture Week Cheat Sheet: A Fashion Dictionary from Atelier to Pret,” Vogue, July 9, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Binkley, Christina, “Why Do Women Spend Less on Fashion after 45?” The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Chrisman-Campbell, Kimberly, “A Brief History of Unisex Fashion,” The Atlantic, April 14, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Daneshkhu, Scheherazada, and Mark Vandevelde, “Clothes buying goes out of fashion in the UK,” The Financial Times, Sept. 24, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Givhan, Robin, “Luxury fashion brands are going green. But why are they keeping it a secret?” The Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Givhan, Robin, “New York fashion exhibit examines the influence of gay designers,” The Washington Post, Sept. 17, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Gunn, Tim, “Designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women. It’s a disgrace,” The Washington Post, Sept. 8, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Holmes, Elizabeth, “Where Luxury Fashion Is a High Speed, High Volume Business,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 26, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Kowsmann, Patricia, “Fast Fashion: How a Zara Coat Went from Design to Fifth Avenue in 25 Days,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 6, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Trebay, Guy, “Why Is the Men’s Fashion Industry in Such Turmoil?” The New York Times, April 13, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Wicker, Alden, “Fast Fashion Is Creating an Environmental Crisis,” Newsweek, Sept. 1, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Zargani, Luisa, “Miuccia Prada Talks Men’s Wear, Revolution and History,” Women’s Wear Daily, March 23, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Fashion,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
“Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, fall winter 2016,” Bain & Company, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Wages and Working Hours in the Textiles, Clothing, Leather and Footwear Industries,” International Labour Organization, September 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Amed, Imran, et al., “The state of fashion,” McKinsey & Company, December 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Bennie, Fionna, Ivana Gazibara and Vicky Murray, “Fashion Futures 2015: Global Scenarios for a Sustainable Fashion Industry,” Forum on the Future, February 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Raustiala, Kal, and Christopher Springman, “The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design,” Virginia Law Review, December 2006, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Cartner-Morley, Jess, “Karl Lagerfeld electrifies Chanel by embracing digital disruption,” The Guardian, Oct. 4, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Laws, Nancy, “Can This New Industry Disrupt Fast Fashion?” The Huffington Post, March 2, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Task, Aaron, “How Rebecca Minkoff Keeps Disrupting the Fashion Industry,” Fortune, Sept. 6, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Online Buying Economy
Chambers, Sam, “Faster Than Zara? Boohoo’s Online Fashion Fuels 260% Return,” Bloomberg, Dec. 28, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Halzack, Sarah, “Online shopping grows robustly during the holiday season,” The Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Wolfe, Nandini, “Shopping for Vintage Fashion: How the Internet Has Transformed It,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 7, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Bhasin, Kim, “The Future of Fashion Is Mushroom Leather,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Dec. 22, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Christian, Scott, “Can H&M Really Make Fast Fashion Sustainable?” Esquire, Dec. 20, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Harilela, Divia, “How Mongolian cashmere is helping sustainable fashion,” South China Morning Post, Dec. 13, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Trending in 2017
Friedman, Vanessa, “What to Watch for in Fashion in 2017,” The New York Times, Jan. 3, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Munzenrieder, Kyle, “The ‘80s Will Be The Biggest Trend of 2017, For Better or Worse,” W Magazine, Dec. 13, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Yotka, Steff, “Meet the People, Trends, and Items That Will Rule Fashion in 2017,” Vogue, Dec. 28, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
American Apparel & Footwear Association
740 6th St., N.W., 3rd and 4th Floors, Washington, DC 20001
Trade association for 1,000 brands, providing professional development, best practices and intelligence on global apparel trends.
Clean Clothes Campaign
Postbus 11584 1001 GN, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Researches and campaigns to improve conditions for garment workers by bringing together companies, unions and non-government organizations.
Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
65 Bleecker, Floor 11, New York, NY 10012
Influential organization that grants awards, runs a fashion incubator and supports the growth of the American fashion business.
Ethical Fashion Forum
50 Brook Street, London, W1K 5DR
Gathers best practices and information for ethical choices in fashion sourcing, manufacturing and more.
Fair Wear Foundation
World Fashion Centre, Koningin Wilhelminaplein 13, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Works with factories, non-government organizations, unions and brands to improve working conditions in apparel factories. Gives a Best Practices award to clothing company at annual conference.
The Fashion Group International
8 W. 40th St., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Established in 1930 by prominent women in the fashion business, it focuses on fashion business and careers with chapters in many cities.
The Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association
25 Sea Grass Way, N. Kingstown, RI 02852
Represents 225 member companies that make, supply and retail jewelry and accessories and “bring science to bear on regulatory issues.”
19 Dig St., Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 1GF UK
Nonprofit organization that seeks to support better fashion jobs and create more sustainable practices.