The fashion industry is often the most glamorous and underrated of industries. While almost every individual is a direct customer of the fashion industry by frequenting retailers or buying from vintage shops, many of those same customers look at the industry as one made up of hobbyists and shallow women. It evokes the scene from the film Devil Wears Prada when Miranda Priestly takes the time out to explain to her new assistant that whether you value fashion or not, you are a part of the ecosystem and you buy into it with every purchase.
Being a startup looking to change the way the fashion industry works, one of the most common remarks we hear is, "Well, I don't really care about fashion. I can't take it seriously." So, we decided that it was time to break down exactly why people should care about the fashion industry (not necessarily about fashion).
1. It brings labor jobs back to the U.S.
Let's be blunt: not everyone has or is looking to get a job that requires a masters degree. Some people are looking for jobs that allow them to utilize their skills; or gives them the opportunity to learn skills on the job. Many of these jobs are in the world of labor. The fashion industry employs laborers on multiple levels. Garment workers, pattern makers, textile designers, packing companies -- all employing labor workers. With production moving abroad for cheaper workers and, often under less than ethical conditions, it is even more imperative to reevaluate the fashion industry and help emerging designers. They need low minimums and want to produce in the United States, thus creating hundreds of jobs.
2. It employs skilled artisans around the world.
Artisans are a dying breed thanks to mass production. But the fashion industry has taken up the mantel to help people by investing in their traditions. Designers go to Africa to pay workers a fair wage to create traditional handcrafted bags. Others go to South Asia to tap into the centuries old mirror work applied on hand dyed fabric. These members of the fashion industry make a direct impact on otherwise impoverished members of our global society. They do not "give charity" as part of a corporate mandate. Instead, they help members of these groups understand their value and reap its benefits. So next time you see a picture of a woman laborer in India stitching together a beautiful shawl, remember that the fashion industry is the one that employs her. Not finance. Not tech.
3. It employs your investment bank, your law firm, your accounting firm, and more.
The fashion industry includes retailers, multinationals, production houses, publishers and more. All of these companies provide business to more traditionally-accepted fields such as law, finance, and technology. Some of the biggest deals that employ JD- and MBA-holding folks come out of the fashion industry. Just ask the private equity gurus down the hall.
4. It gives creative entrepreneurs the chance to make a difference.
The same people that forget the importance of music classes in school seem to forget that everyone learns and applies knowledge differently. Not everyone has a brain wired to code or do heart surgery. Other people have a brain wired to create happiness -- simple, unadulterated happiness and awe. Those people are called creatives; they give us art, architecture, music -- and yes -- fashion. Without individuals dedicated to creating beauty through art, we would live in one seriously boring world. The fashion industry employs those artists, and affords them the chance to be entrepreneurs in their own right. It is their opportunity to take control of their future. So when someone says they are a fashion designer, do not raise an eyebrow and ask, "Your parents let you do that?" Instead, ask them how much math goes into putting together a properly constructed garment. Then stand in awe as they explain the technical specs of one tee shirt to you. Respect.
5. Do you really want to watch the Oscars for the speeches?
That does not need to be explained further. Especially if the host is boring.
6. Whether you like it or not, what you wear says a lot about you.
Whether you throw on a tee shirt with a fun little quip or a well-tailored suit, what you wear creates an initial impression in the eyes of those that see you. It's the same reason most offices have an office attire policy; and why you can tell the partner at a law firm from the senior associate. People notice what you wear and try to derive an understanding of who you are from there. Deny it all you want, but it is what it is.
The fact is, the fashion industry will always be around. It will morph and adjust, and it will hit market trends. But it will never go away because fashion feeds a fundamental part of each person: the way we are perceived.
Looking down upon the industry does not show intellect, but evidences a lack of understanding that the industry is part of a larger ecosystem, one that employs millions of people in production, public relations, art, textiles, finance, law, and dozens of other industries. So, instead of wondering why anyone "cares" about fashion, take the time out to accept the fact that like so many other industries, this one creates jobs and affects lives. Plus, it makes you look good.