The Fashion Business
To outsiders it might seem like a frivolous business, but to those in the know, the fashion industry represents a very important contribution to the economy of many countries. In the UK, according to the British Fashion Council this contribution amounts to over 51 billion Australian dollars, twice what the car industry brings, and nearly equal to the contribution from housing.
With that amount of money floating around, it is no surprise that the fashion industry is indeed a complex one. From design, material sourcing and manufacturing, through channels of financial planning and business management, to showing creations on runways and in magazines, the talents and hard work of many people is involved. Oxford Economics 2014 claims the industry in the UK employs 797,000 people.
Much of the hard, less glamourous work is done behind the scenes, and often without security in what lies ahead. Small fashion houses tend to open and close quickly, with a reported 95% of start ups failing in the first five years.
For many designers, a lot rides on certain peak periods of publicity and exposure. London Fashion Week, held twice a year, is a massive event, where retail buyers from around the world descend on the capital to view the latest couture offerings. The equivalent of almost $200 million is exchanged for orders for the season in the five days of the event. Only a third of the buyers are from the UK, so it is clear the market is global. Other significant fashion weeks are held in Milan, Paris and New York, with those cities considered the fashion capitals of the western world.
Astute marketing and celebrity endorsement can make an enormous difference to a fashion label. Digital media, including live streaming of fashion shows, and social media, with its global reach, also impact the fashion industry. The constantly evolving industry depends not only on the ongoing creation of new products, but on the latest marketing tools and technologies.