From the sustainability of the supply chain to the cost of manpower, from technology to untapped business opportunities in the African market and the large apparel market, today’s fashion industry is facing many problems that need to be urgently addressed. Buy this special paper issue.
London, UK-Pleasure and fear coexist in our time. As the global population swells, more and more people are making unprecedented consumption through various means, and our planet is slowly approaching some unknown disaster. At the same time, new technologies have fundamentally changed the scale, speed, and mode of interpersonal relationships, creating new business opportunities that have not been seen since the Industrial Revolution. In addition, despite verbal support for equality and protection of human rights, the proportion of older white seats on the board is too large, and many workers in the factory are not earning enough to earn a living.
Over the past six months, our team has worked together to focus on the seven major issues facing the fashion industry today (including the sustainability of fashion production and labor costs, the fate of craftsmanship, the misalignment of male and female executives, and technology, Africa Development of business opportunities in the market and large apparel markets, etc.), examining the global operation of the fashion industry.
We searched and discovered companies and people who excel in this area all over the world, visited companies in China, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, and visited company founders, senior executives and experts in various fields to obtain They provided first-hand information on the strategies, systems, and processes they developed to address these issues. This survey visit also contributed to our latest issue of the English edition.
Stella McCartney was the first high-end fashion designer to seize the opportunity to create a luxury fashion brand with sustainability at the core. In order to turn opportunities into reality, she had to develop new management processes, find new sustainable materials, and find alternative business practices to adhere to the principles of brand creation, while at the same time finding ways to make the brand profitable.
We also look at Inditex, the world’s largest fashion retailer, which produces more than 948 million garments per year, and its manufacturing, logistics, and retail operations span the globe. Can such a huge company be sustainable? In order to find the answer to the question, we were fortunate to talk to senior people at the company.
Our research also covers two emerging companies in the field of fashion technology, Farfetch and Ringly, large clothing retailers Navabi and Eloquii, and fashion companies targeting the booming African market.
Based on this, we are pleased to launch BoF Voices here. This is a new forum for discussion and debate, where members of the global fashion community can express and exchange opinions on the most important fashion topics of the moment.
We start with the topics in this special issue. In the next few weeks, we will also invite you to discuss with experts from all over the world in the fashion industry and share ideas, ideas and feedback on BoF Voices.
There is no perfect answer in the world, and our goal is to introduce new ideas and conduct global discussions on the Internet. We believe that the solutions provided by these companies will benefit the entire fashion industry.
Brainstorming, we will have the power to change the world.
How can the fashion industry become more sustainable?
The clothing and textile industry is the world’s second most polluted industry after the oil industry. Every stage of the clothing life cycle poses a threat to the planet and resources. Producing a kilogram of cotton-almost a T-shirt and a pair of jeans-requires more than 20,000 litres of water. The process of turning raw materials into a variety of garments, including a series of dyeing and decoration processes, requires the use of up to 8,000 different chemicals. What about unpopular, broken or outdated clothing? Basically directly discarded in huge landfills. In this context, how can the fashion industry become more sustainable?
How can we provide protection for garment workers?
The competition in the fashion market is very cruel, and fashion companies have huge profit pressure. They have to continue to launch new products, which has led to more and more products manufactured by the fashion industry, faster and faster, and lower costs. Many fashion companies are shifting manufacturing to markets where labor costs are low and workers’ rights are not adequately protected. At the same time, most consumers still buy low-priced products, but never consider the labor costs behind these products. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh sounded a wake-up call and reminded us to act. The government, companies and consumers are responsible for the accident. In this context, how can we provide protection for garment workers?
How can traditional craftsmanship survive in modern society?
Exquisitely crafted ancient crafts from all over the world are on the verge of being lost. As more young people choose other occupations, skilled artisans are in danger of disappearing. The choice of young people, coupled with the popularity of mechanization and global production, has defeated many traditional handicraft companies. Those small companies that have survived are often family-run businesses, lacking financial support, unable to attract and train new talent, and lacking technology to build sustainable business models. In this context, how can traditional craftsmanship survive in modern society?
Why does the fashion industry ignore the large-size clothing market?
In 1985, the average size of American women’s clothing was size 8. Today, the size 8 has grown to the size 14 and this size is often the benchmark that distinguishes standard clothing from large clothing. The large-size apparel market is currently valued at US $ 17.5 billion (about RMB 107 billion) in the United States alone, but it is still the market segment with the least supply of services in the fashion industry. The large clothing department of the store is often hidden in a small corner deep in the store. The large clothing is limited in style, conservative and outdated. Large clothing has almost never appeared in advertisements and shop windows. Fashion luxury goods are particularly sensitive to large-size clothing, and many designer products are only available in small sizes. Why does the fashion industry ignore the large-size clothing market?
What steps are needed to integrate Africa into the global fashion system?
Fashion has become a truly global industry. Countries in China, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Soviet Union have all been integrated into the global fashion system. But Africa, which has one-seventh of the world’s population, is still hovering on the edge of this system, and is relatively backward in both fashion manufacturing and consumption. Although economic, geopolitical, and social issues continue to test Africa, one third of the region’s 1 billion people are becoming rich. In the next 10 years, this huge but fragmented market consisting of 55 independent countries will become the source and consumer market for fashion products, and fashion companies will have the opportunity to make huge profits here. So what measures need to be taken to integrate Africa into the global fashion system?
How can the fashion industry train more women leaders?
Women make up more than 70% of the workforce in the fashion industry, but they hold less than 25% of leading positions in top fashion companies, and the number of women in senior production positions is also lower than normal. So far, women have been the main consumers of fashion products, but business decisions often do not reflect their views. Companies that exclude women from leadership are also excluding those with competitive advantage from leadership. In this context, how can the fashion industry train more female leaders?
Has the fashion industry ignored the technological revolution?
From music to transportation, industries other than fashion have undergone fundamental changes under the influence of technological innovation, and the fashion industry is lagging behind in the use of technology. The fashion industry is blindly superstitious about technology, thinking that technology is like a seasonal trend, rather than a lasting change. Technology is changing everything today, including product development, manufacturing, logistics, human resources, and sales. But most fashion companies still despise technology, classifying it as a tool for marketing and sales departments, and treating it as a non-staff plan, without incorporating technology into their core business thinking. Has the fashion industry ignored the technological revolution?