The IAF has commissioned a short global study of major developments in the apparel industry. The study has been carried out by one of the IAF’s associate members, major Indian apparel consultancy firm Technopak. The study will be given to all delegates of the 30th World Fashion Convention that is to take place in Medellin, Colombia on September 30th and October 1st. As such, the study will set the scene for such speakers as Stefan Siegel, Adriano Goldschmied and Horacio Broggi of Desigual will of course talk about many of the same challenges faced by the industry as addressed in the study.
One of the main points the IAF is making with this study is the increased relative power of developing countries’ apparel industries in the global apparel system. IAF’s truly global membership is a reflection of this more equal balance. It offers the opportunity for executives from all layers of the industry to discuss strategy on an equal footing.
According to the study, we see a global fashion market that is becoming more homogeneous while at the same time these brands and retailers must adapt their collections more to local tastes. Sometimes these local varieties feed back into the global fashion loop, making the world market a source of inspiration for itself.
International brands are gaining market share in emerging markets. But more remarkable is the large share of local brands in these markets. Ideally, foreign brands actually help the development of local brands by setting an international bench mark, without actually dominating these markets and leaving plenty of room for local brands to prosper.
On the supply side, the study outlines the reaction to rising production costs, particularly in China. Improving production instead of moving production is an important trend and it is reinforced by increasing internet retail requiring companies to keep tighter control and more visibility over their supply chain. It is expected that, as a result, the market share for the large manufacturing groups will increase given their scale of operation, control over supply chain, and such other associated advantages as investment in tracking fashion trends, technology deployment and ability to attract talent. Positive changes in the apparel industry will be driven more the coming decade by investments in the manufacturing part of the industry. Improved performance CSR and sustainability is interlinked with these investments, making improvement in supply chain and factory productivity interlinked with investesments in CSR and sustainability.
Of course, the apparel industry will see new countries entering the global production chain. But more so than before, companies will seek to cooperate to try to exert sufficient influence over the new environment that they will be operating in. Realistically, they can only do so collaboratively, which is why we foresee a greater role for global industry groups working with multilateral organisation, national governments and local industry associations.