I never thought I would say this, but Italy can even make sitting through class fun. The room might have been stifling hot but the presentation itself was very informative and eye opening. I enjoyed learning about everything from the general business models to the sustainability of the fashion industry.
The first thing we learned about was the general set up of the fashion industry and the difference between the different markets and individual companies. For example, one of the things we learned about was the differences between luxury brands, designer brands, premium brands, and retail brands. Now luxury brands are companies like Gucci where they make their money due to their quality and the nature of their name. These companies are, for the most part, incredibly expensive compared to other companies. Similarly to these companies are the designer brands which included names like Armani. The difference between a designer brand and a luxury bland is that the designer brands have a head designer at their center that creates the clothing. Designer brands can be cheaper that luxury brands but most of the time they will have a very steep price. Retail brands, on the other hand, land on the opposite side of the spectrum. These brands, like H&M or American Eagle are much cheaper in comparison to other luxury brands and are what most people will buy. These companies can have their own stores or even can have their brands being sold in retail stores like Walmart or Target. Finally, there are also premium brands. Premium brands are brands like North Face where they are not as expensive as luxury brands but more expensive than retail brands. These brands are also popular because, even though they are cheaper, they also tend to be of a higher quality that many people love and respect.
Also, another subject we discussed was the idea of “fast fashion”. Now, normally, a fashion company will take a very long time to come out with a new design. The reason for this is they start by first using their stylists to try to come up with a new fashion. Then they take a few years to come up with what fabric to use and then what colors and dyes. Eventually, after a long time, they will make it and put it on the runway. Then after the runway it will take about six months before the design is produced and ready for sale. In the fast fashion business model, companies will wait until the runway and then quickly use that inspiration to produce a new design that they will put out within six months. This is often as fast or faster than the companies producing after the runway. This business is supposed to turn a quick profit and keep a company in time with the current trends and fads. One major issue with this method though is the fact that it is extremely wasteful. In order to produce a new design that fast there isn’t a lot of thought out into being ecofriendly and careful with the materials used.
This idea leads into the second half of the presentation, which was also my favorite. She talked heavily about the sustainability of the fashion industry as a whole or, should I say, the lack of sustainability. One thing she did mention immediately is that sustainability is the driving force behind the innovation within the industry. Before I go any further, I want to define sustainability with a definition form the presentation. Sustainability is defined as being able to satisfy current needs without compromising the possibility for future generations to satisfy their own needs. As we learned before making this trip, the fashion industry is one of the huge contributors to the destruction of the rainforests and many other natural resources. It’s for this reason that there is such a large need for a change in the fashion industry practices as to sustain the world for future generations. There are many different big name companies that are jumping on the movement to try to improve their methods to make them more sustainable. Some of these names include companies like Gucci, Patagonia, and Vogue. Patagonia specifically is making a huge effect on the market itself. One of their major contributions is releasing lines compromised of recycled polyester and cotton in order to reduce waste. This can make a huge difference because, according to the presentation, it can take up to 10,000 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans. So, if they use recycled jeans instead of making a new pair, they can significantly reduce the waste going into production.
Now, the main issue as to why nothing has been fully completed has to due to the three p’s. These are profits, people, and planet. In order for a company to be successful they need to create a balance between these things. Obviously many companies tend to try to favor profits over all else but if these major companies began focusing more on trying to make an even balance between them all, they may be able to make a significant dent in the fashion industries effect on the planet as a whole.
Overall, even though I had to go to school in Italy, the presentation was very helpful in understanding the inner workings of the fashion industry and their effect on the environment. I’m hoping that a change is made soon that will reduce their footprint and help make the planet a safer and healthier place for the future generations.