Friday chronicle #1: Fashion pulp fiction

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The fashion industry is a mighty powerful institution and Fashion designers collect a great amount of creativity. Every year rising stars make their entrance in the international fashion scene and shooting stars just vanish in the forgotten sands of unsuccess. Behind the fancy sparkles of fashionistas, there is a tremendous industry. Sometimes it shines bright and strong, and other times, human misery and depression await you around the corner of a catwalk.

The fashion industry, economicus-machina

Today in the world, we count between 14’000 to 16’000 fashion designers. By 2016, expert estimations calculates the total amount of 21’000 talented people. 25% of them are and will be self-employed whereas the others will work for a fashion company as employee. Overall, the fashion industry employs more than 4 million people worldwide.
In terms of sales, the world fashion industry, including clothing, textiles, footware and luxury goods represented last year over a $ 2.8 trillion.
In 2014, only the womenwear is supposed to pass $ 621 billion sales.
China is the biggest producer of fashion fabrics in the world. Every year 3 billion tons of Fabrics are produced and it represents the 3rd position in China annual GDP ($ 8,2 billion in 2012).
Every year, 232’000 people visit New York during the 2 fashion weeks. This provides to the city an extra $ 20 million revenue.

Fashion publicita-heroica

Despite the revenue produced by Fashion, this peculiar industry has also the power to spend it. They represent one of the biggest advertising spendings in the world, not only because of seasonality rhythm but also in terms of being an image driven industry.

“Away from the eyes, away from the heart”

While Print advertising decreased by 4% last year, Fashion and Luxury print advertising increased. Condé Nast announced a +3% for Vogue. Time Inc announced a +2% for InStyle, Elle Magazine had an amazing +3.3% and Harper’s Bazaar had a 1.3% increase (Source: Adweek).
In the world last year we almost reached an amazing $ 200 billion in advertising. Mostly leaded by the US market, advertisers were never so dynamic as they are now, especially with the burst of Digital advertising: Display, SEM and Social. Brands completely embrace the digital era in order to reach a maximum number of people with their messages. Last year, Burberry announced they would use 60% of their total marketing budget to digital advertising activities.

Killing yourself for 7mn of ephemeral glory

While the Fashion industry became a huge business machine, it also has its glorious moment, most of them are summarized by the Fashion show or catwalk or runway. Several times a year, Fashion brands unite in single events called Fashion Weeks: one for Spring/Summer and another for Autumn/Winter. There are also some other “rendez-vous” for Cruise. All important cities in the world have their fashion week. New York, Paris, Milano but also São Paulo, Shanghai or Zürich. It is a global business, so it is a global show. They represent the important appointments between Brands, Media and potential buyers. If you fail your fashion week, probably half of your year will be bad. And as we know, certain media moguls have the power to reveal brands but to kill them too. So a Fashion show is that precise moment in which more than 1’000 hours of work will fly by during 7 minutes.

Everything is über-perfect

Behind the sparkles, the feathers, the silk and the leather, there is the work of thousands of people and most of the time they all give birth in pain. And the hottest a brand is, the hardest is to work there. 24h return flight to Hong-Kong to pick up 12 sorts of perfect premium cashmere, back to Paris or London and realize that finally the “mighty studio” do not want them anymore. Or working everyday for 2 weeks until 4am (including weekends) because suddenly half of the collection is not ok.

We have a “button problem”

The evening before the fashion show, the designer decided that all buttons of the entire collection should have the brand name in the back and not in the front. Why? Because it was more elegant. So the entire slaved crew worked all night to take all the buttons out and stitch new ones in order to avoid the biggest shame of all during those endless 7 minutes. As we all know, half of the clothes presented will never reach a store and being wear by someone right?
So every year, nobody talks about the mental and physical suffering that is hidden in the different creative studios and that builds the foundations of all splashing and colored runways. At least it is all wrapped with Champagne, Sushis and Taxis bills refunding.
Of course we could also talk about many other jobs in which stress, extreme psychological pressure or hard working conditions push people to the limit but probably the press talk much more about it.
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So next time you buy a piece of clothe, you might think that some people spent hours creating, preparing, producing or selling it, so that you could wear it, hopefully more than 7 minutes.

LA

Info sourced at AdWeek, Forbes magazine, wikipedia, Brands annual reports 2012 2013. Featured image source here. Please note the brands and model in the featured image has no direct relation with the article. Its meaning is for illustration purposes only. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.

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