I mentioned in my recent werewolf Wednesday post that I don’t like to excessively describe the clothes my characters wear in my books because honestly, no one gives a shit. But because I did go to school for fashion design, I still think about it, what are my characters actually wearing versus the very succinct descriptions of “cargo pants and a tank top” that I’m actually giving. And I know I’ve brought this up before when Barbie came out with their different sized Barbie dolls that fashion is a business.
But it appears to bear repeating. Fashion is a business.
I know I’m doing writing now instead of doing fashion design and a lot of people may think that I should regret going to school for fashion instead of going to school for writing. I honestly don’t. I learned a lot in my years studying fashion design, specifically, a lot about business. A lot of what I learned about fashion business can be applied to a lot of other businesses as well, including things like fashion dolls, video games and yes, writing.
The fashion business itself seems to be a huge mystery to many people. Despite the way teenage girls and adult women stare at fashion magazines, and the fact that outside of nudists most people wear clothes and well, shows like Project Runway, how the clothes come to be is a huge blank for most people. I tried to explain it to a boyfriend once and he looked at me in complete shock and went “I had no idea that much effort/thought went into what goes in clothing stores.” He actually looked rather daunted by the whole thing.
I’ve been out shopping with parents and friends and said to them offhandedly that this store is for their market and they’ve gotten offended at me as if the idea of not every boutique/store in the mall is designed, marketed and targeted for them specifically. And I get confused because don’t they want to shop at a store that has clothes designed with their preferences and needs in mind?
There are so many articles about the problems in the fashion industry. Popular stores don’t include sizes for everyone. Fashion models being underweight. Fashion designers not wanting to design plus size. Cultural appropriation of textile motifs and jewelry fashions. Photoshop blunders turning real people into stick figures without limbs and joints. The problems of fast fashion, fashion manufacturing in third world countries and the environmental impact of everything from synthetic fabrics, dyes to finishes. These were issues we discussed in my classes over a decade ago and we are still discussing them because nothing has changed. And why has nothing changed?
Fashion is a business.
Fashion is a trillion dollar business that has to deal with a global economy. Fabric sourcing, tariffs, quotas, different countries have different marketing strategies, global advertising, plagiarism and on it goes. There is a system in place and to change that system is terrifying to those in the fashion industry. They have an image to maintain. An image that wants to ignore all their problems so they can keep on doing what they are doing, making money.
So, I want to talk a bit about fashion and business and how what I learned can be applied to other businesses as well, such as video games and writing. This is going to take several weeks.
Onto Part Two