Time of Class:
Effect of fashion on economics of the world
When Megan Young of the Philippines was crowned miss world 2013 she wore a uniquely designed pink dress. A designer friend participated in an exhibition where he launched a dress similar to the one that Megan wore. He priced the dress at $2000 and managed to get 100 orders for the dress within a week after the exhibition. This makes one wonder what role fashion plays on the world economy arena and its consequential effects on the social-economic stage.
The fashion industry is viewed as one huge sustainable industry however; critics argue that competition for resources and environmental degradation concerns may prove the industry unsustainable in the long run.
The fashion industry provides jobs to millions of people worldwide. The industry, broad as it is comprises of components including agribusiness, design, manufacturing, laundry, recycling and waste services. All these require manpower, skilled and semi-skilled. In 2005, the industry employed approximately 26 million people worldwide (Consumer goods 1).
The industry has also played a vital role in sustainable development through marketing. This is majorly through its huge influence over society and economy through regular customer transactions and complex globalized supply chains. The global clothing and apparel goods market generated a total revenue of $1.3 trillion in 2008 and contributed to 7% of world exports (Consumer goods 1).People will always want to put on clothes and other apparel products to express themselves. This will never change. The collective energy, adaptability and capacity for innovation if harnessed can play an important role in creating a sustainable, fair and low carbon world. Even more important is its powerful marketing and trendsetting that make sustainability more desirable.
Capacity to adapt and create space for change has been impressively demonstrated by the industry. This was evident during the wave of ‘ethical consumerism’ in the late 1980s, when retailers adopted codes of conduct to end relationships with suppliers who exploit workers, and set out to improve labor standards (Strauss 12).
However, much as the industry contributes positively to the economy its negative effects cannot be overlooked.
The manufacturing component consumes natural resources such as energy and water which are becoming increasingly scarce. For the world of fashion in particular the supply of raw materials like cotton is likely to become increasingly constrained as water gradually becomes scarce and pesticides more expensive and regulated. There’s also concern on the competition for land space with food crops and energy crops. It’s important to note that whatever the distribution and availability of resources control of supplies will remain a significant political issue.
The industry contributes to pollution through smoke and waste products from (textile and apparel) factories. Expected to this effect is stricter legislation on waste management/treatment, even as access to clean drinking water and need to protect the environment become more pressing issues.
In conclusion there’s need to bring balance to the dynamics at play as regards fashion to ensure people’s needs are satisfied with minimal damage to the environment. Let livelihoods be made, let people express themselves, let economies grow but protect the environment and Mother Nature with equal spirit. The question is: how much are people willing to make lifestyle choices that reduce consumption to reduce pressure on the environment? There’s need to tread carefully just to ensure we don’t live wanting to eat our cake and have it at the same time.
Consumer Goods: Global Industry Guide, Datamonitor, March 2009.
Strauss, Levi.2010.Fashion futures 2025:Global scenario for a sustainable fashion industry.