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The Impact of Globalization within the Fashion industry Essay

Throughout history, the fashion industry has played a significant role in popular culture for people all over the world, who are different ages, races, shapes, and sizes. Fashion is being creative and expressing your inner beauty whether you’re the designer, the stylist, the model, or even the buyer. The style of dress establishes a person’s unique individuality that represents not only who they are on the outside but how they are feeling on the inside. The Fashion Industry has also made a major impact on people when it comes to boosting their confidence. It has demonstrated how to gather emotions and represent them through clothing and accessories. A simple hair color change, a new outfit, the latest pair of shoes, and maybe even a little make-up can transform one from average to extraordinary in a matter of minutes. But fashion is more than just how you decide to dress or mismatch styles. It is the influence of society’s definition of beauty that humanity grasps in order to define themselves and connect with other cultures. I believe having fashion sense gives people the opportunity to have a positive and open-minded outlook on life.

However, there is more to the industry and the culture within it than most can imagine. Fashion can be examined sociologically, environmentally, historically, and economically. Considering that “the encounter between the world’s cultures and the combinations of traditions and events is rooted in its creative process” (Ling, 2011, p.107). With the help of international media, the ability of designers to inspire and motivate others about fashion across the world has been made available.

Acknowledging the possibility that “a combination of one designer and another, or one style and another, is not only common in the creative process; rather, this leads to the formation of a new creation” (Ling, 2011, p.107). The constant growth of globalization allows consumers to receive access to newly reinterpreted styles and trends globally. It has also been stated that “in design studies, fashion tends to be perceived as the frivolous little sister to product design” (Skov, 2002, p. 555). The global fashion industry is also known to be the retail sale of apparel around the world. This particular industry has great potential to help change the average way of living.

Looking at the industry from a business perspective, it includes much more than just clothes, accessories, and shoes. The manufacturing, distribution, marketing, advertising, branding, importing and exporting of fashion also plays an important part in this industry. Billions of people are employed within the fashion industry. For example, “Southern California is thus now the largest clothing manufacturing centre in the US in terms of employment” (Scott, 2002, p. 1288). Globalization develops an open market and free trade allowing opportunities for the less fortunate countries to be competitive. In addition, “Hong Kong’s wholesale markets offer all kinds of specialized materials and fashion information from all parts of the world” (Skov, 2002, p. 554) with strong dependence on the many designers, stylists, critics, models, sellers, buyers, and stores involved.

The fashion world is a very competitive industry. Therefore, when it comes to exporting the buyer is in control. The designer has to be able to create unique designs in large bulk at the right price. In fact, “small-scale entrepreneurs have access to highly specialized manufacturing facilities, ensuring that short runs of sophisticated garments can be produced speedily and in high quality” (Skov, 2002, p. 554). Since the designer exports to consumers from parts all over the world, their designs will probably be adjusted to satisfy each buyer. Actually it’s been stated that “Hong Kong overtook Italy to become the world’s largest clothing exporter in 1973 [Hong Kong Review 1982].” (Ling, 2011, p. 110).Which demonstrates that there has been competitiveness in the industry for quite some time.

In addition to the developing world that is currently producing most of our clothing, price has seemed to outweigh quality. It may look to be the latest trends shown in the hottest fashion magazines but they are actually just imitations. Yet, they are still available to purchase thanks to fast fashion. This happens to be “centered around relatively inexpensive, cheaply made designer knockoffs that go in and out of style faster than the traditional cycle of four fashion seasons” (Cohen, 2011, p. 12). With globalization in mind, companies are now able to provide high demanded clothing at low prices. And since it is cheap, they sell more of it. It is often said that “consumers in the United States are gravitating toward lower priced attire over high quality, longer-lasting clothing. But the opposite holds true in the Japanese market” (Cohen, 2011, p. 12). On the contrary, “the recent trend in Hong Kong has been a sharp shift away from cheap quantity to finer quality” (Karnow, 1964, p. 24).

There’s no surprise when it comes to the expansion of global designers and the influence impacted on today’s youth. Commendable designers and brands such as, Christian Dior, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and, Dolce & Gabbana have set excellent examples and left behind big shoes to fill. Illustrating that “the individualism of fashion design is strengthened in the design schools where they are forced to rely on their own ideas and experiences through project work” (Skov, 2002, p. 559). The range of cultures and artistic abilities of such popular labels have allowed potential designers to enter the fashion world and appeal to crowds of great variety.

Even though the World Wide Web and fashion runways are beneficial sources for designers to present their work, they are not the only options. Leaving us with the “fashion exhibitions in a gallery or museum setting [that] have impact on the world of design” (Mears, 2008, p. 118). Art museums and/or galleries dispense knowledge of history. Despite the issue that “this practice would seem odd in most Western countries today, it is actually a reflection of how art was commonly shown in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States and Europe” (Mears, 2008, p. 102). Today’s fashion is basically a recreation of what used to be in style 20 years ago.

Unfortunately there are some negative impacts of the fashion industry. Because of human nature, first impressions are judged by how a person looks and what clothing they are wearing. It has been established that “clothing is an important means by which young adults gain social appreciation and develop positive self-esteem” (Ersun & Yildirim, 2010, p. 314). Therefore, people tend to focus on the latest trends advertised in the media in order to establish a popular social identity. Unsuccessfully, the images that are being perceived by the industry aren’t quiet achievable which results in many people beginning to starve themselves or rely on plastic surgery to obtain a more desirable appearance.

Assuming that “fashion, which stresses constant change, urbanity, and secularism…” (Mears, 2008, p. 103) can also can break down one’s self-esteem and change the perception of a whole country. The fashion industry has so much attention focused on making an expensive impression that it sends the message of materialistic items being more important than having a great personality. Though it is understandable that “in order to succeed in the increasingly competitive fashion market they strike to establish a distinctive and recognizable style” (Ling, 2011, p. 107). By trying so hard to stand out, they are really just blending in.

The fashion industry has also been accused of violating labor laws in reference to sweatshops. Companies look for workers and young children in third world countries that are willing to work long hours for low wages. In fact, “a major proportion-probably the majority-of the labour force in the southern Californian clothing industry consists of low wage immigrants, mainly of Asian and Hispanic origin” (Scott, 2002, p. 1290). Because less developed countries are not protected by labor laws, hard workers are being taken advantage of. For instance, “the tailoring groups negotiate the price of each style on the basis of the labor involved, and wages within the teams vary with the workers’ skills” (Karnow, 1964, p. 29). Yet consumers still search for cheaply priced clothing and forget all about the people who are dedicating their hard work and time to make them.

With all aspects taking into consideration, the fashion industry still stands to be more helpful than harmful. Fashion inspires people to come out of their shell and lets them know that it is okay to be different and still be beautiful. It eliminates discrimination and unites countries internationally. Diversity is such a major factor that “the demand for new, innovative and changing styles from the fashion industry pushes it to look to other cultures for the novel and exotic” (Ling, 2011, p. 107). Dictionary.com defines beautiful as “having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.”, which is what the fashion industry endorses. Clothes were made to cover the naked body not hide natural beauty. Instead, clothing enhances our physical features.

Furthermore, “fashion design is an increasingly individualistic profession” (Skov, 2002, p. 559). Even though trends are often duplicated, the fashion industry allows potential designers to use their creativeness and exclusive ideas in order to bring something new to the table. Fashion schools actually educate about the specifics of the industry and offer opportunities to build a career from it. Fashion education would be a great learning experience because it “involves ‘the whole person’ to the extent that it is impossible to draw a line between professional creative skills and self-expression” (Skov, 2002, p. 559).The fashion industry supports freedom while opening many doors of endless possibilities. The future of fashion is very unpredictable, yet it is still commonly underestimated. Even though the fashion industry is mainly known for its control over society’s view on others, the affect individuals have on the industry is much greater.

Many feel as if the fashion industry only takes interest in people who are physically fit and have perfect features, which is not necessarily true. Numerous brands focus on a variety of shapes, sizes, and age ranges. As a matter of fact “clothing stores in Japan target older consumers, who are likely to be more interested in long-lasting quality than keeping up with the latest styles, while American advertising targets younger consumers interested in just the opposite” (Cohen, 2011, p. 12). Maternity and plus size sections have also been incorporated in department stores. This has provided opportunities for models strictly in those categories, to advertise and become a part of the fashion industry. Additionally, magazines often publish helpful articles on how to spice up old wardrobes or share tips on choosing new styles.

In conclusion, it is apparent that fashion exists dynamically across the globe. Distance is irrelevant when it comes to the interaction with other countries. Since clothes are designed in one country, manufactured in the next, and then sold worldwide there is no doubt that the fashion industry is anything less than globalized. Due to the constant development of various clothing styles and the significant amount of employees in this industry, fashion is considered a billion dollar business. As the industry grows and adapts with many diverse cultures, it continues to encourage the creative mind in achieving higher self-esteems because all individuals want to look and feel attractive. An appealing appearance represents an investment made within and communicates a person’s popular status in society. It also reveals the change of fashion history over time. Despite its confliction with reality and unrealistic expectations of the ‘norm’ persuaded by fashion, the media is still an essential piece of this industry. Becoming accessible to the public, the media allows brands to connect with and receive feedback from their customers. Without the involvement of the social media, designers wouldn’t be able to display their ideas of future fashion trends globally.

Ultimately, the fashion industry gives people the opportunity to express their definition of beautiful by allowing them to illustrate personal interpretations of originality through clothes and combine styles from different countries. Fashion strengthens confidence, motivating the humankind to look good and feel even better. It’s not about what you see on TV, the expensive designer clothes, or trying to reflect models. Fashion symbolizes a unique personalized style. Analyzing people in this industry, some may feel as if fashion is just a career or maybe even just a hobby but it is easily forgotten that for many, fashion is their life. And at the end of the day, beauty comes from within.


Cohen, A. M. (2011). Fast Fashion: Tale of Two Markets. Futurist, 45(5),
12-13. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

Dictionary.com (2012). Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/

Ersun, N. A., & Yildirim, F. (2010). Consumer Involvement and Brand Sensitivity of University Students in Their Choice of Fashion Products. Marmara University Journal of the Faculty of Economic & Administrative Sciences, 28(1), 313-333. Retrieved November 28, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

Karnow, S. (1964). Fashions: The Asian Rag Race. Saturday Evening Post, 237(3), 24-31. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

Mears, P. (2008). Exhibiting Asia: The Global Impact of Japanese Fashion in Museums and Galleries. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 12(1), 95-119. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

Scott, A. J. (2002). Competitive Dynamics of Southern California’s Clothing Industry: The Widening Global Connection and its Local Ramifications. Urban Studies (Routledge), 39(8), 1287-1306. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

Skov, L. (2002). Hong Kong Fashion Designers as Cultural Intermediaries: Out of Global Garment Production. Cultural Studies, 16(4), 553. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

Wessie, L. (2011). From ‘Made in Hong Kong’ to ‘Designed in Hong Kong’: Searching for an Identity in Fashion. Visual Anthropology, 24(1/2), 106-123. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from EBSCOhost database.

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