Category Archives: Moyen orient

Economic Analyisis of Fashion Retail


Fashion retail is typically a consumer goods market. It is characterized by very short product life, fickle consumer preferences, numerous competitors, relatively easy entry and exit, and a myriad of manufacturing, marketing and retail alternatives (Richardson, 1996). Over here, we will mainly make references to U.S and Europe where the fashion capitals – New York, Milan, London and Paris – resides. One of the reasons for their leading role in the apparel sector is that they are able to acquire information on future trends in colour, theme and styles in advance, preparing their own collections by combining and interpreting such information with market data (Aktuglu, 2001).

1.1 Products being sold

Products being sold can be divided into three distinct categories – couture, ready-to-wear (RTW) and mass production.

1.1.1 Couture Wear

Couture wears are exclusively tailored by in-house designers and are produced in limited numbers of expensive, high quality garments. Couture houses are organised according to long-established principles, with the couturier (or designer) providing an identity and direction, supported by assistant designers and a premier de l’atelier (head of the work room). Couture houses are regulated by national organisations which ensure that members meet stringent design, manufacturing and commercial regulations.These regulations make couture garments affordable by very few consumers (Wigley, 2004).

Figure 1: (from left to right) Alexis Mabille, Chanel, Valentino and Christian Dior (Photos courtesy of [] )

1.1.2 Ready-to-Wear (RTW)

As such, to be commercially sustainable, the fashion industry provides less wealthy consumers with cheaper garments. The antecedents of this RTW industry are in eighteenth century second-hand clothes dealers who stocked unwanted samples from tailors and dressmakers. Thereafter, manufacturers were making garments to be specifically sold in such outlets, facilitated by their new ability to produce relatively cheap and high quality garments. RTW acquired greater significance during the 1960’s and afterward as the division between it and couture became blurred. Designers were able produced garments which were distinctive and cutting-edge while remaining relatively affordable (Wigley, 2004).
Figure 2: (from top left) Emporio Armani, Diesel Black Gold, Calvin Klien, Ralph Lauren, D&G, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo. (Photos courtesy of []  and [] )

1.1.3 Mass Production

Mass production of clothing was pioneered during the early twentieth century. The process of manufacturing a large number of garments involves fabric testing, pattern cutting, sizing, and assembly. Today, this process is often computerised, using design software to plan the process and automatic machinery to carry it out. Typically, independent companies undertake mass production on behalf of the brand under which the garments are sold, usually high street brands such as Marks and Spencer. As the fortunes of this company illustrate, predicting styles sizes and delivering consistent quality to the customer is challenging. The most successful mass-market retailers have sophisticated forecasting techniques, just-in-time manufacturing, efficient distribution and effective marketing (Wigley, 2004).

A related concept to mass production is fast fashion. They are clothing collections emulating the latest trends on the catwalk that are designed, manufactured swiftly and are priced at an affordable range. It mostly targets mainstream consumers as « they want to be able to buy the things celebrities are wearing or they want to be able to buy into the trends that they’ve seen from the catwalk as quickly as possible » (Fast Fashion, 2004). Some well-known brands that are riding on the fast fashion bandwagon are Zara, H&M, Forever 21, TopShop and Mango.

Figure 3: Images of shops of popular brands such as Forever 21, Zara, Topshop, H&M and Mango (Photos courtesy of [] )

Products being sold are women’s fashion clothing and accessories, women’s standard or non-fashion items, men’s apparel and accessories as well as teens’ and junior clothing and accessories.

1.2 Retail Venues

All these are sold in departmental stores (E.g. U.S: Bloomingdale’s,Target, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom. Europe: Marks and Spencer, Printemps, H&M), boutiques, chain stores, outlet stores and malls.

A study conducted by Fowler & Clodfelter (2001) compared the garments sold at outlet and departmental store and found that  there were only minor differences in their outward appearance as well as the materials used. To differentiate garments sold at the outlet store from the departmental store, both labels were slightly different. For instance, Ralph Lauren outlet shirts have a cream-coloured dot woven into the label; Tommy Hilfiger outlet shirts bore a crest while those from the departmental store had a flag. Despite the variations, only savvy consumers will be aware of these differences. In terms of pricing, garments sold at the outlet store were about 30% lower than in the departmental store since no middleman is involved. However, fashion merchandise offered at the departmental store might not be found at outlet stores simultaneously, only basic merchandises are.

1.3 Price Determination

Pricing strategies are determined by: market factors – market and city characteristics (metropolitan, small city, urban, suburban; chain factors – chain size, positioning, with regards to corporate mission and policies; store factors – store size, category assortment; category factors – size assortment, storability, extent of necessity; brand factors – brand equity or preference, relative brand advertising, relative trade deals and customer factors – consumer sensitivity to price changes (Shankar & Bolton, 2004).

1.3.1 Price Tiers

Prices can also be determined by price tiers. The number of tiers is either market or product specific. Market specific prices can be placed on 3 different levels: national brand, store brand and generic brand. Product specific prices are determined by perceived value and their price, whether they are in the economy, middle market or premium. (Shankar and Bolton, 2004).
Taking Gap, Inc. for example, it is a specialty retailer, who enacts a three-tier price strategy, targeting three specific price and consumer markets through diverse retail formats: Old Navy (economy), Gap (middle), and Banana Republic (premium). Although Gap, Inc. retailers are specialty apparel and accessory retailers, all are distinctly positioned and priced based on a price tier. Retail formats are characterized by price point, product type, positioning, and life stages (Gap, Inc., 2004). Another example would be Levi’s, where Levi’s Signature in in the economy tier, Red Tab is in the middle tier and Levi’s Premium is in the premium tier (Author, 2005)

1.3.2 Theory of Clearance Sales

According to the Theory of Clearance Sales, sales can be categorized into 3 types: pre-season, within-season and clearance sales. The phenomenon of clearance sales is much more prominent and it arises from the unpredictability of style, color, pattern and consumers’ preferences. Since retailers are clueless about consumers’ preferences, the apparels are offered in the first period at an initial price. Once consumers’ choices are known, apparels sell out fast when consumer reservation prices exceed the initial price. On the other hand, if the consumers’ reservation prices below the initial price, the store than picks an optimal markdown price.(Pashigian, 1988)

1.3.3 Price and Consumers

Consumers also use price as an indicator of product quality because they believe market prices are determined by the forces of competitive supply and demand. They assume that a garment with a high price meets high quality standards and vice versa. Consumers use price as a cue to quality because it is visible and known. That is, prior to the purchase, price is easier to compare as opposed to the quality features and durability of the garments. When the consumer can’t readily see other differences in two identical garments, price is the vital piece of information available for use in evaluating quality (Fowler & Clodfelter, 2001).

1.4 Searching and Matching

Buyers and sellers find each other through a number of ways:

1.4.1 Trickle Down Theory

The upper class in a society is the leader of new fashion (Law, Zhang and Leung, 2004). Fashion that is adopted by the upper class will soon be imitated by each succeeding lower class until they have « trickled-down » to the lowest class (Sproles, 1981)

1.4.2 Mass Market Theory

The mass production combined with mass communications make new styles and information about new styles available simultaneously to all socioeconomic classes. Fashion diffusion has the opportunity to begin essentially the same time within each class. (Sproles, 1981).

1.4.3 Collective Selection Theory

New fashions emerge from a process of collective selection, where collective tastes are formed by many people. During this process, many new styles will compete for acceptance by consumers. The styles that are welcomed and acknowledged as fashionable will gain a competitive edge over others. Consumers’ tastes are vaguely defined initially, but the selections of innovators will give more precise statement of appropriate tastes. The designer’s prestige may also further legitimize his/her choice in adopting the new fashion (Sproles, 1981).

1.4.4 Subculture Leadership Theory

Fashion originates from different subcultures in the society (e.g. blacks, youths, blue collar workers and ethnic minorities)(Law, Zhang and Leung, 2004). Their unique style will eventually emerge; noticed by the larger population and become admired for its creativity, artistic excellence, or relevance to current lifestyles. The style then diffuses into the mass population through either the trickle-down process or mass market mechanisms (Sproles, 1981).


2.1 The Retail Industry

This wiki page is focused on the fashion retail markets in US as well as Europe as those places are where the fashion capitals are found namely, Paris, London, Milan and New York. Each market has varying market makers, defined by a few large powerful actors responsible for shaping market institutions. In the global luxury fashion retail market, there are mainly three large fashion conglomerates competing with one another: LVMH, PPR and Richemont. They can be considered the market makers of the fashion retail market as they each own a substantial number of luxurious brands in the market and thus, possess power to decide and influence the rest of the fashion market.

2.2 The Market Makers

A myriad of factors define the fashion retail market, namely the interactions among fashion companies and the interaction between fashion companies and the consumer. On the surface, it may seem like there are many fashion brands competing with one another. In reality, some of the brands selling similar products, are actually owned by the same fashion company. For example, LVMH, the french holding conglomerate, owns Louis Vuitton and Fendi, both of which are luxury fashion brands.

2.2.1 LVMH

LVMH, also known as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is one of the world’s largest luxury-goods company, home to around 60 luxury brands in various sectors such as fashion and leather goods, wine and spirits, perfumes and cosmetics as well as watches and jewellery. A tabulation of the amount of revenue generated by each business group within the large conglomerate is shown in Table 1 below. Also, The various luxurious brands owned by this French holding company are listed in Table 2.

Table 1: Table of revenue generated by various sectors of LVMH from Year 2007 to Year 2009

Millions of Euros Year 2007 Year 2008 Year 2009
Wines and Spirits 3,226 3,126 2,740
Fashion and Leather Goods 5,628 6,010 6,302
Perfumes and Cosmetics 2,731 2,868 2,741
Watches and Jewellery 833 879 764
Selective Retailing 4,164 4,376 4,533
Other activities and eliminations (101) (66) (27)
Total 16,481 17,193 17,053

Source:LVMH Annual Report 2009 (accessed on 8 April 2010)

Table 2: Table of brands from various sectors under LVMH

Wines and Spirits
·         Moët et Chandon
·         Dom Pérignon
·         Krug
·         Château d’Yquem
·         Glenmorangie
·         Belvedere Vodka
·         Chopin vodka
·         Hennessy
·         Domaine Chandon California
Fashion and Leather Goods
·         Louis Vuitton
·         Fendi
·         Donna Karan
·         Loewe
·         Marc Jacobs
·         Kenzo
·         Givenchy
·         Thomas Pink
·         Pucci
·         Berluti
·         Stefanobi
·         Rossimoda
·         Celine
Perfumes and Cosmetics
·         Parfums Christian Dior
·         Guerlain
·         Parfums Givenchy
·         Parfums Kenzo
·         Benefit
·         Make Up For Ever
·         Acqua di Parma
·         Parfums Loewe
Watches and Jewellery
·         TAG Heuer
·         Hublot
·         Zenith
·         Chaumet
·         Dior Watches
·         Fred
·         De Beers
Selective Retailing
·         DFS
·         Miami Cruiseline
·         Sephora
·         Le Bon Marche

Source: LVMH Annual Report 2009 (accessed on 8  April 2010)

2.2.2 PPR

PPR is a French multinational conglomerate, not too far behind LVMH in the fashion market. It was formerly called Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, but was shorterned to PPR on 18 May 2005. It has 5 main subsidaries under its company name: Fnac, Redcats Group, Conforama, Puma and Gucci Group.The following table reveals the breakdown by revenue generated by the various subsidaries in year 2009:

Table 3: Table of revenue generated by various subsidaries of PPR in year 2009

Millions of Euros Year 2007 Year 2008 Year 2009
Fnac 4,583.5 4,587 4,375
Redcats Group 3,764.5 3,699 3,386
Conforama 3,313 3,168 2,928
Puma 1,717.6 2,524 2,461
Gucci Group 2,175.4 3,380 3,390
Total 15,554 17,358 16,540

Source: PPR Annual Report 2007PPR Annual Report 2008 and PPR Official Website (accessed 8 April 2010)

Gucci Group is the luxury good subsidary, whereby global fashion brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent pave the way for younger brands such as Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Boucheron and Sergio Rossi. In year 2009, €3,390 million of revenue was generated by the Gucci Group. The following piechart obtained from PPR’s official website itself reveals the breakdown of revenue by brand in year 2009:

Figure 4: Piechart of breakdown of revenue by brand of Gucci Group of PPR in year 2009 

Source: PPR official website (accessed on 8 April 2010)

2.2.3 Richemont

Richemont is a Swiss luxury goods company founded in 1988, with five key areas: jewellery, watches, writing instruments, leather and accessories, and clothing. It is the third largest luxury good international conglomerate, trailing behind LVMH and PPR. The following shows the amount of sales generated by various maisons of Richemont.

Table 4: Table of sales generated by various maisons of Richemont from year 2007 to year 2009

Millions of Euros Year 2007 Year 2008 Year 2009
Jewellery 2,435 2,657 2,762
Specialist Watchmakers 1,203 1,378 1,437
Writing Instruments 585 625 587
Leather and Accessories 307 309 294
Fashion and Accessories 297 321 338
Total 4,827 5,290 5,418

Source: Richemont Annual Report 2009 (accessed on 8 April 2010)

Table 5: Table of brands from various maisons under Richemont

  • Cartier
  • Van Cleef & Arpels
Specialist Watchmakers
  • Piaget
  • A. Lange & Sohne
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre
  • Vacheron Constantin
  • Officine Panerai
  • International Watch Co. Schaffhausen (IWC Schaffhausen)
  • Baume & Mercier
  • Manufacture Roger Dubuis
  • Ralph Lauren Timepieces
Writing Instruments
  • Montblanc
Leather and Accessories
  • Dunhill (London)
  • Lancel (Paris)
Fashion and Accessories
  • Chloe
  • Alaia (Paris)
  • Shanghai Tang
  • Purdey

Source: Richemont Annual Report 2009 (accessed on 8 April 2010)

Almost half of Richemont’s main revenue stems from the sales of specialised watchmaking, however, a portion of its revenue is generated from fashion and accessories as well. Brands such as Dunhill, Lancel, Chloe and Shanghai Tang are the more famous fashion brands with outlets available in many parts of the world.

2.2.4 Consumers

The retailers seem to have the most power in defining the market as they possess the power to market goods at prices desirable to them. However, the market price is in fact also determined by consumers. According to basic economic theory, the price of a good is determined by the demand by consumers and supply of the good by the producers in the economy. (J. F. Muth, 1961) Especially for the fashion retail market, fashion trends are forecasted by analysing results of consumer’s emotions towards the previous trend. (H.S Cho et. al., 2005) Hence, consumers do play a vital role in forming the fashion retail market as well.

2.3 Competition and Cooperation

2.3.1 Diversification

One method in which fashion companies compete with one another is through diversification. In order to gain a larger market share, a company may set up different kinds of shops, retailing clothings of varying prices to target different groups of consumers. The fashion retail industry may be segregated into three tiers: economy, middle market or premium, depending on the range of prices of the fashion piece. Fashion companies have various strategies to attract consumers to purchase their products. For example, American Apparel, though at the lower end of the price scale, generate revenue by mass production of designs which are in the current trend. On the other hand, premium fashion brands such as Prada has already established classic designs of fashion products such as the handbags, which are targeted at less price-sensitive consumers who do not mind paying more to purchase a product early in the season. (G.M. Allenby et. al., 1996)

Some large companies diversify to tap into all three markets in order to capture different market shares. Also, fashion companies may choose to diversify into specific fashion apparels such as atheletic apparels, fashion accessories such as handbags, shoes etc. One good example is Gap Inc., which has 5 different brands under its company’s name: GAP, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta. Old Navy is targetted at the economy price-tiered market, GAP is targetted at the middle-market price-tiered market while Banana Republic is targetted at the premium price-tiered market. Piperlime is an online shop managed by Gap Inc. which retails shoes and handbags of other brands while Athleta is a brand specially targetted at women atheletic sportswear. (Gap Inc., 2010) 
Figure 5: Photo collage of retail stores of two brands, GAP and Banana Republic, both owned by Gap Inc. (Photo courtesy of Gap Inc. )

2.3.2 Extrapolating the trend

Companies have a group of designers to plan, nearly half a year ahead, what the trend for the next season will be. Fashion pieces designed, will be modelled down a runway at fashion shows typically held at fashion hubs around the world to showcase the new collection. The biggest fashion weeks are held regularly according to the seasons in the top fashion capitals in the world, namely Paris, London, Milan and New York. (British Fashion Council, 2008) These centralised fashion shows are meant to showcase the new collection to the press, which will subsequently be disseminated to the public through the media, thus setting fashion trends and fashion statements through such avenues. (N. M. Rantisi, 2001)

Figure 6 : A photo collage of Gucci Spring Fashion Week in Milan, 2010 (Photo taken from )

2.3.3 Branding and Advertising

According to John Durrel (1998), branding represents “a consistency of quality and meaning associated with a designer’s collections that will carry over from year to year”. Despite changes in design from one season to the next, these changes in fact reinforce the particular company’s image. (N. M. Rantisi, 2001) For example, most Louis Vuitton fashion accessories like their handbags and purses would carry its logo, which represents not only the brand, but also the prestige attached to the luxury brand. Thus, many fashion companies in the industry use advertising to appeal to selective rather than primary buying motives. (W. R. Smith, 1956) 
Figure 7: Photo collage of two different designs of Louis Vuitton accessories, the former being the classic design while the latter being one of the modern designs. (Photos courtesy of [] )

2.3.4 Vertical Integration

Some of the bigger fashion companies are vertically integrated with their line of production so as to be able to shortern production cycle and be able to adapt to the current demand as well as customer satisfaction. (J. Richardson, 1996) In rapidly changing and highly competitive industries such as the fashion retail market where products have short product life and differentiation advantages may be quickly imitated, it is important for fashion companies to be sensitive to changes in fashion trends and to be able to swiftly change their line of production when the need arises. This concept is called Quick Response,a philosophy in management which refers to a mode of operation for the wntire supple chains that produce consumer products so that customers receive the products they want in the desired timeframe. (S. Daskalaki, n.d.)

Figure 8: Photo Collage of the American Apparel factory located in Los Angeles (left) and one of the many American Apparel retail stores (right) available in many parts of the world such as United States, Austria, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Germany, Canada, France, Sweden, Mexico, United Kingdom, Brazil and Australia. (Photo courtesy of

One good example to illustrate this point is American Apparel, one of the largest apparel wholesalers in the United States. This company has integrated manufacturing, distribution and retail together, with every step of the process done in-house and not replying on outsourcing. From designing and marketing, fabric storage to warehouse distribution and retail, all of it is owned by American Apparel.

2.3.5 Horizontal Integration

One of the methods of competing with other fashion companies would either be to cooperate with them and form an alliance, or to take over smaller firms, a process known as acquisition.One good example would be PPR, one of the fashion conglomerates in the fashion retail market. In 1999, PPR bought over 42% of the Gucci group, entering the luxury goods sector. Since then, PPR has slowly acquired more of the shares such that it currently holds 99.4% of stakes of the Gucci Group. Also, in 2007, the fashion conglomerate acquired 62.1% stake in Puma, one of the world leader in sports lifestyle. (PPR, 2010)

2.3.6 Media

One of the most powerful tool to enhance its brand image and raise awareness of one’s fashion brand is through mass media. From fashion magazines such as Vogue, to television channels dedicated only to fashion such as, it can be seen that media plays an important role in promoting one’s fashion brand or company. At fashion shows held around the world in fashion hubs, the press is present to document the release of the newest collection from various fashion brands. Through newspapers, fashion magazines and even fashion websites, the new season’s fashion trend is being broadcasted to millions of people theough these media.

Fashion companies also collaborate with media artistes to enhance its brand image, through endoresements and  advertisments. For example, in 2009 for their spring/summer collection, Louis Vuitton engaged Madonna, the pop music icon to be featured on their advertisments together with their products. (LVMH, 2009)

Figure 9: Two Louis Vuitton advertisements featuring Madonna from LV/s Spring/Summer Collection 2009 (Photos courtesy of )

2.3.7 Factory Outlets

Usually, retail stores such as Prada clear the stocks of past seasons or unsold goods through the factory outlets where prices of goods will be decreased by a significant percentage. There is an increasing trend of companies to use this method to raise awareness of their brands as consumers nowadays would not mind obtaining a branded good, even if it was past the season, at a lower price. For example, brands like Tommy Hilfilger, Puma and United Colours of Benetton set up factory outlets in India to suit economic needs of price-conscious consumers by selling their goods at lower prices. (Chaudhary, 2008)


The consumption of fashion can be traced all the way back to the 16thand 17th Century Europe and took off amongst the European nobility. Queen Elizabeth I used the dramatic spectacle of fashion as a display of governmental power. She also forced competition between the nobility by removing them from their locality where they were clearly superior, forcing them to attend the London Court where they had to compete with equals. In the past, commodities were chosen because of their ability to appreciate in value as time passed with the idea that they would be passed down to succeeding generations as inheritances, while newness and novelty were seen as marks of commonness. However, the Elizabethan noblemen now began to spend less on his family and began to spend more to secure his place in this new social competition. Goods selected as markers in a social competition require very different characteristics than those purchased to be handed down. Now, consumers focus on the ability of the commodity to express the individuality of the consumers, his/her difference from others of the same social rank. By the 17thand 18th Century, this competitive consumption spread beyond the London Court to create new institutions and lay the foundation of consumer culture.

Figure 10: Elizabethan fashion during the late 1500s to early 1600s.« Traditional hierarchy of taste was a product merely of snobbery and the desire for distinction… »

Elizabeth Wilson ‘Adorned in dreams: fashion and modernity’

Individuals began to assume the role of a consumer in the economy. Consumers interpret fashion and use it to create personalised consumption meanings. Western fashion patterns, which are categorized by novelty, constant renewing and updating, infused with advertising and mass media is considered an important basis of the ideology of consumption. Consumers actively combine and adapt culturally established fashion discourses to fit the conditions of their daily life, using fashion discourses to forge self defining social distinctions and boundaries. They use fashion to construct narratives of personal history, and interpret the interpersonal dynamics of their social sphere, helping us to understand their relationship to the consumer culture.

The fashion phenomenon has raised many issues:

1)      Morality of consumerism

2)      The conditions of self worth

3)      The pursuit of individuality

4)      The relation of appearance

5)      Character traits

6)      The dynamics of social relationships

7)      Reinforcing of gender roles

8)      Standards of taste

9)      Economic inequality and

10)   Social class standing.

3.1 Stigmatizing and Stereotyping

Fashion affects the way people perceive each other.  We perceive a person’s personality through the fashion or the style that one may have. Fashion acts as a symbolic representation of one’s gender, culture and even a person’s characteristics, creating stigma and stereotyping of a person background, etc. For example, it is stereotypical to think that Indian women wear saris, while Scottish men wear kilts.  

Figure 11: Indian women are often typically portrayed as wearing saris (right) while Scottish men are known for wearing kilts (left)

Fashion intertwines into the consumers’ self-identities and social relationships. In Craig J. Thompson and Diana L. Haytko’s article, “Speaking of Fashion: Consumer’s Uses of Fashion Discourses and the Appropriation of Countervailing Culture Meaning”, one sees that people judge and have perceptions of others through others’ fashion and style.  Through the right fashion and style, it may represent creativity, organization, competence and conscientiousness, while the outdated fashion or wrong style may represent “the undesirable…broader implication of not being able to effectively put one’s life together”.

The searching and matching in certain organizations such as fashion industries depend greatly on the selling of an individual’s appearance and ‘first impressions’. Employment becomes intertwined with the bias due to stereotyping. Skill sets are placed second place to one’s ability to ‘speak’ through their physical appearance. There is a dependency of the society on fashion to create distinctions and justify class division.

« Adornment… which gathers the personality’s … radiance as if in a focal point, allows the mere having the person to become a visible quality of its being. And this is so, not although adornment is superfluous, but because it is… This very accentuation of personality, however, is achieved by means of an impersonal trait… [for] style is always something general. It brings the contents of personal life and activity to form shared by many and accessible to many. »Georg Simmel ‘Adornment’

3.1.1 A divide between the people

Fashion emphasises on the divide between classes in a society, reinforcing class stratification. It acts as a statement of wealth and prestige, or the lack thereof. The ownership of labels and branding of products serves as distinguishing markers of social economic class. For example, the upper class will naturally seek to establish their wealth and social standing through donning haute couture or using high-end products while the lower classes make do with mass produced items and street fashion.

The creation of new social classes, the subcultures and/or countercultures, is apparently evident through fashion and style. Subcultures and countercultures adhere to a distinctive set of values, norms and practices within a larger culture that may oppose the dominant culture. Fashion works to distinguish social circles, class status(mainly based on socio-economic status) and subcultures. For instance, hip hop fashion with its trademark heavy gold or bling-bling jewelleries, sneakers, baggy pants and more importantly, attitudes have been long established and easily recognizable throughout the world.  

Figure 12: The Hiphop fashion has been known to have bling-bling, oversized shades and baggy pants. (Photos courtesy of )

It becomes relatively easy to identify some subcultures’ in a society through their styles such as punk, grunge or hip hop as soon as they have become widely known and as long as they are used consistently, but there are no dictionaries in the language of fashion. As such, fashion puts a society’s social hierarchy on display when it makes it easy for one to identify a person’s social background or social culture through one’s dressing. It was once easy to judge, by the quality and amount of fabric or the amount of labour-intensive lace and embroidery, the social status of a person, which only knew the dimensions of « up » or « down ». However nowadays there are many more dimensions to consider, e.g. progressive or conservative, high or low educational level, high or low ecological awareness and more. They all seek expression through consumer goods.

3.1.2 Reflects expectations that come along with occupational status and prestige Expectations

Fashion reflects expectations that come along with occupational status and prestige. Different occupations demand different fashion style. High end job position holders are expected to possess designer products as a reflection and a symbol of their power and prestige. For example, the fashion that a CEO has is immensely different from that of a road sweeper. The CEO, being at the top of the occupation ladder, would be expected to wear branded apparels and drive high-end cars, while a road sweeper, being at the bottom of the occupation ladder, would not be expected to possess anything fashionable or stylish to reflect his wealth and status. Fashion sells the ideals on what a CEO should wear and possess. It is rare to find fashion defining dressing ideals of a road sweeper. More importantly, with the advent of the World Wide Web, one can easily google outfits suitable for their job scope. Mass media is extremely important in the definition of job appropriate attire.For instance, the teaching profession .

Figure 13: Formal office attire (Photos courtesy of Victoria’s Secret ) Fashion as a reflection of job scopes and titles

By fulfilling expectations of one’s job, fashion is constantly used an identification of job scopes purely through what we observe and interpret from one’s attire.


“A Hollywood star flaunts her beauty at the Oscar ceremony, clad in an exiguous gown while the German graphic artist Jeanne Mammen used dress to disappear in Weimar Berlin to enjoy the freedom of being overlooked.”

3.1.3 Fashion blurring the line…

Figures 14 & 15 : On the runway: Men exude feminity, soft features along with softer fabrics such as satin, and feminine colours, while females take on the structured and masculine tailoring. (Photo courtesy of and )

While fashion acts as a representation of gender and culture everywhere and acts as a divide for social spaces, it subtly advocates equality within gender and sexuality. In the past, men’s fashion was masculine with dark colour shades like black or dark shades of grey. The 20th Century ushered a new era of fashion for females and males. As fashion evolved, we see the blurring of the line between the strict male-female fashion styles. Before the 20th Century, females were expected to wear dresses and skirts as a symbol of their being female, and wearing pants or suits was unthinkable. The 1960s Women’s Liberation in the United States of America saw, for the first time in American history, the giving of women the freedom to dress as they had never been able to before. Since then, we have witnessed the evolution of fashion for not only females but for males as well.

For example, in the 21st Century, we see the fusion of female and male fashion styles together, with men’s fashion adopting some characteristics of the women’s fashion, and vice versa. Now, we see tote bags are not only fashionable in the women’s fashion sphere, but also in the men’s fashion sphere as well; while we see the rise in popularity of women’s pants suits.

3.2 Fusion of Western and Asian Culture in Fashion

Fashion has permeated from the West into Asian culture as early as the 19th Century when Japan began to emulate Western fashion. Since then, western fashion has integrated itself together with Asian culture and fashion to form what is now called street fashion in several Asian countries, like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In Japan, Western brands like American brand Abercrombie & Fitch and Swedish fast fashion brand H&M have become popular among aspiring American-preppy Japanese teens as Abercrombie & Fitch opens its first flagship store just steps away from H&M in Ginza, Japan’s upscale shopping district. The fusion of Western culture with Asian culture can be seen in several Japanese street fashion brands such as Uniqlo, A Bathing Ape and Comme des Garçons. These Japanese street fashion brands have reached international success, with the most popular brands having flagship stores in the West. Western fashion has also influenced Indian high fashion culture, with the Indian traditional attire and fashion taking the backseat.

Figures 16 and 17: Japanese street fashion (left) and Korean street fashion (right) (Photos courtesy of and )

3.3 Fashion Deviance

Over the years, we see the rise in a different sort of fashion all together—the idolising of fashion deviant behaviour. The portrayal of fashion-deviance has been gaining popularity with the rise in the mass media. Avant-garde fashion is fashion that is seen as experimental fashion or innovative fashion, and one of the most prominent avant-garde fashion designers is French haute couture fashion designer, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Gaultier has been known for using unique looking models in his fashion shows of all different shapes, sizes and ages. In Interviewhe explained that, “I have never really cared about what fashion’s ideal was. There are different kinds of beauty and I always try to show that.” 

Figure 18: Avant-garde fashion being a form of fashion deviance (Photo courtesy of )

Fashion deviance is not only seen in famous fashion designers but also in celebrities such as Lady Gaga, who is famous for her outrageous sense of dressing and her avant-garde music style. Such fashion deviance is a way of portrayal of one’s own personality through originality and individuality. Furthermore, such deviant fashion behaviour serves as effective marketing strategy with free publicity due to the different and outrageous style that will capture people’s attention. 

Figure 19: Pop icon, Lady Gaga, who is famous for her outrageous sense of dressing and avant-garde music style, at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards (Photo courtesy )

Fashion deviance emphasises on uniformity and individuality simultaneously. Fashion reinforces social solidarity and imposes social group norms, while the deviations are usually experienced as shocking or disturbing. People incorporate moral implications of clothes into their social consciousness such that our language reflects it: words such as ‘right’, ‘good’, ‘fashionista’ and ‘chic’ are used to express approval of clothes while words such as ‘shabby’ and ‘slipshod’ are used to express disapproval. To seek approval among one’s peers, people follow trends, and use products that reflect the current trends respectively. However, to prevent themselves from looking exactly the same as the person beside them, accessories become essential in the pursuit of individuality. Individuals may conform to the now social norm, such as dressing mannerisms (e.g.: leggings or skinny jeans), but they may accessorise to define and bring forth their own personal styles, such as boho-chic, urban, mod, metrosexual, avant-garde, etc.


« To dress fashionably is both to stand out and to merge with the crowd, to lay claim to the exclusive and to follow the herd. »


3.4 Creation of Consumer Culture

Consumer culture or consumerism, defined by Webster’s dictionary, is “the movement seeking to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards”, or “the theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial”.

Fashion creates a desire for ownership. Coupled with mass media and advertising, market makers sell lifestyles and consumers consume such products and lifestyles in hope for upward mobility in the social hierarchy. This creates a culture of hedonism through the impression that one can purchase a status and in turn, ‘happiness’. As such, this new consumer culture lays the foundations for consumption, and demand and supply, of fashion in a society.

Along with this, individuals learn how to be ‘consumers’, needing to purchase products that essential to their socio-economic status. As a result, there is a creation of consumer concepts such as ‘savings’, ‘budgeting’ and ‘overspending’, where people learn the concepts of saving, budgeting and overspending with the increase in consumption.  Fashion often starts from the fashion designers and celebrities themselves. As people have the desire to emulate celebrities who are major role models in fashion, such fashion often begins from the celebrities themselves, with people consuming products that have been endorsed, worn or used by the celebrities. More importantly, fashion provides a way for one to create an image they desire others to perceive. In this sense, fashion does not serve as an accurate tool of identifying class.

The fashion industry’s main way of advertising is through endorsements, where companies typically contract athletes or celebrities to release a written or spoken statement approving their products. Endorsements are used as promotional tools and grant the brands exposure that yiels short term benefits and long term rewards. It creates exposure for brands, positions and repositions existing brands as well as new brands. It give extensive public relations leverage and opportunities to the brands and promotes the brand appeal, hence encouraging people to buy the products and increasing the sales for the brands’ companies.

However, fashion, as they say, comes and goes and is never constant. For example, in long running TV shows like the US sitcom Friends, we see the gradual change in fashion and style in the clothes that the characters wear throughout the show. But with the ever changing trends and fashion, we see that people have to constantly buy and consume new goods and services to stay in fashion. The frequent renewal of fashion in our capitalistic society makes it an effective marketing strategy as the constant updating of ‘trends’ and the human desire to fit in keeps the fashion industry alive.

Figures 20 and 21: The tremendous fashion style difference can be seen in Season 10 (left) and Season 1 (right) of famous TV sitcom Friends (Photos courtesy )

Figures 22 and 23: The difference in fashion style being portrayed in two different productions of TV show Beverly Hills, 90210 in the 1990s (left) and the current production of 90210 today (right) (Photos courtesy of and )
Fashion speaks Capitalism… fashion is as much a part of the dream world of capitalism as of its economy…


Fashion, in a sense is change. The reactions of fashion on changes in activities and life styles can be found in sports. It is unusual to see athletes today performing at high levels without the appropriate accessories and apparels designed to provide comfort and protection under extreme conditions. Specialised apparels (Nike dri-fit for sports) and accessories have been designed and made popular and essential, such as basketball shoes, tennis rackets, or golf clubs. Another example can be seen in how smart-casual outfits have become more popular with professionals, given the increasing need of socializing after work. (Hines et al). This has been a utilitarian response from fashion to society’s changes. Koenig’s neophilia can be understood as the acceptance of human beings to new things. It is at this stage where fashion finds the opportunity to change and innovate in order to satisfy people’s need to wear new things.


As fashion is defined as a general term for the style and custom prevalent at a given time, it is itself a very broad-based concept where any prevailing style or custom in tangible goods can be purchased. It extends its characteristics into the larger product world as for consumerism to take place; it depends highly on what is fashionable then/now. Fashion, hence, is one of the main driving forces of consumerism. Most of the revenue in the market is driven by people’s consumption of products and services that are fashionable due to their desire for acceptance by society.

4.1 Influence of Fashion into Other Industries and Markets

While fashion may be a term that is associated mostly with clothes, it has huge impact on other industries and markets, such as the Hollywood industry, digital games industry and the sports industry. 

Figure 24: The Sports industry and the Hollywood (film) industry has been greatly influenced by fashion throughout the years (Photos courtesy of , and )

4.1.1 Hollywood

Hollywood revolves around fashion. Its industry carries the expectations of their consumers to keep up with an emulate fashion trends. Hollywood celebrities are seen as representatives of fashion. Several style icons, such as Sienna Miller, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alexa Chung, Marilyn Monroe, are Hollywood celebrities who have achieved high praises for their sense of style, with many trying to emulate thier styles. Another example can be seen in the 1970s actress, Farrah Fawcett, whose hairstyle (named the « Farrah Do » or « Farrah Hair ») made her an international pop icon and her hairstyle became an international trend, with millions of young women trying to emulate her hairstyle for nearly a decade from the beginning of the 1970s to the early 1980s.

Several Hollywood actors and actresses have also been featured as the faces of famous brands over the years. Perfumes are launched with Hollywood celebrities as the spokesmodels of the products, such as Charlize Theron for Dior’s j’adore, Nicole Kidman for Chanel’s Nº 5, Anne Hathaway for Lancôme’s Magnifique and Ryan Reynolds for Hugo Boss Fragrances. Hollywood celebrities can also be found as faces of luxury brands as well, with Emma Watson for Burberry and Megan Fox fronting Armani’s underwear campaign.

Figures 25 and 26: Harry Potter’s star Emma Watson as the spokesmodel for British luxury brand, Burberry (left), while Charlize Theron is the spokesmodel for Dior’s perfume j’adore (right) (Photos courtesy of and )

We have seen several Hollywood celebrities going into the fashion designing industry as well. For example, Sienna Miller has a label backed by Pepe Jeans called Twenty8Twelve, Sarah Jessica Parker has a fashion line with discount clothing chain Steven & Barry’s named Bitten, while Hilary Duff launched her own clothing line, Stuff by Hilary Duff, in March 2004 (which has since expanded into furnitures, fragrances and jewelry) and hs since co-designed a collection of special pieces with DKNY Jeaans called Femme for DKNY in 2009. Furthermore, several fashion frands have named their products after celebrities, such as Hermès’ Kelly and Birkin bags being named after famous actresses, Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin respectively.

Figure 27: The different clothing lines launched by Hollywood stars (Photos courtesy of , surrealistlovescene.wordpress and )

The Hollywood industry has been making films and these films have both influenced the fashion industry as well as been influenced by the fashion industry. Hollywood films have been glamorised by fashion as seen in many sitcoms and movies where actors don on newly released or limited edition accessories and apparels. For example, the movie, Legally Blonde II featured extensively the brand Jimmy Choo, while Le Divorce featured Hermès in the movie. Popular TV show, Sex and the City also promoted both Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik.

Figure 28: Movies like Legally Blonde 2 and Le Divorce features brands like Jimmy Choo and Hermès extensively (Photos courtesy of 6× )

Famed pioneering French fashion designer Coco Chanel’s life was also made into several biopic over the years, the most recent one being entitled Coco avant Chanel(French title) or Coco Before Chanel (English title). The film was nominated for four BAFTA Awards, three European Film Awards, six César Awards and the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The production of Coco Before Chanel shows how pioneers of fashion (in relation to Coco Chanel) are givne a status that makes them worthy of having their lives documneted. It symbolises how far fashion has come and its establishment of its power, as well as its importance and influence in Hollywood.

Figure 29: The biopic, Coco Before Chanel, documents famed pioneer French fashion designer, Coco Chanel’s life (Photo courtesy of )

Award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars), Emmy Awards (for Television) and BAFTA Awards, have an award category for Best Costume Deisgn. Other film award shows like MTV Movie Awards (MMAs) have an award category for Best Dressed, although MTV Movie Awards retired the category after the 2002 MMAs. This shows the influence of style and fashion in films and TV shows in not only Hollywood but in the film industry as a whole.

Figure 30: Several fashion magazines follows and offer tips on how to emulate the latest style and fashion (Photos courtesy of the various magazine covers)

Fashion magazines, such as Harper’s BazaarVogueInStyleFashion MagazineElle and Marie Claire, all expose the public to fashion and style. They follow trends set by celebrities or the latest fashion styles by fashion designers. TV stations like The Style Network, Fashion TV and E! Entertainment, have programmes that cater mainly to fashion and style, and showcases fashions and styles of Hollywood celebrities. For example, E! Entertainment has a segment called Fashion Police, where they showcase celebrities’ fashion Dos and Don’ts. Also, TV programmes like 90210 and Gossip Girl have incorporated fashion into the shows, with websites devoted to teaching people how to emulate the style and fashion on the TV shows. Reality TV shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model also reiterate the importance of fashion and never fail to raise famous quotes by established fashion market makers.

Figures 31 and 32: Both TV shows 90210 and Gossip Girl incorporate the latest fashion and style (Photos courtesy of divxturka and )

« Fashions fade, style is eternal. »

Yves Saint Laurent, 1940

« A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. »

Coco Chanel

4.1.2 Digital Games Industry 

With the advanced technology, we see the influence of fashion in the digital games industry with increase number of games that incorporates fashion into the games. One example would be that of the 2004 strategic life simulation video game, The Sims 2The Sims 2 had expansion packs that had fashion included in it, such as Glamour Life StuffTeen Style StuffIkea Home Stuff and H&M Fashion Stuff. Also, we see fashion being an influence in several other video games, such as Barbie Fashion Show andImagine: Fashion Designer, a game designed for the Nintendo DS, where the players get to design clothes or assembling outfits. Such games sell and reinforce ideas of how individuals of different genders should dress. Latest versions of the game even include styles that are desirable and in fashion (such as leggings and owning a handphone).

Figure 33: The different expansion stuff pack offered by EA for the strategic life simulation video game, The Sims 2, includes fashion (Photo courtesy of )

4.1.3 Sports

Fashion has been integrated into sports. Athletes have become a fashion icon as well as a sports icon. This can be evidently seen in The English Premier League (EPL) as well as the National Basketball Association (NBA) Their images are remodelled to look fashionable, and their popularity can lead to the popularity of the team they are playing for. Also, when a team is on a winning streak, the team will gain popularity and becomes ‘fashionable’ to support. Also, we see sport stars endorsing products that are popular and fashionable, such as Coca-Cola and Gillette.

Figure 34: Sportsmen like Swiss tennis star Roger Federer and French soccer champion Thierry Henry and golf phenomenon Tiger Woods (Photo courtesy )

We also see athletes going into fashion design, wiith famous NBA basketballer, Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade designing the a limited edition of the T-Mobile Sidekick3, named the Sidekick3 D-Wade edition, released in 2007 for a limited time only. Another famous basketballer, Michael Jordan has also become a prominant figure in the sport wear fashion. Nike has created a signature shoe for him, called the Air Jordan , and subsequently spun off the Jordan line into its own brand entitled the « Jordan Brand » that features an impressive list of athletes and celebrities as endorsers.

Figures 35 and 36: NBA basketballer Dwayne Wade’s special edition of the T-Mobile Sidekick3 (left) and the logo of Nike’s Air Jordan’s Jumpman logo to promote the shoes (right) (Photo courtesy of t

One obvious display of the integration of fashion into sports can be seen on the courts of Wimbledon. World renowned tennis players such as Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova as well as the William sisters bring runway fashion on to the courts. Their outfits are clearly influenced by current prevalent trends, this includes their warm-up and match attire. For instance, from the figure below, Sharapova (on the left) dons a tuxedo-inspired outfit and Serena (3rd from left), a trench coat as warm-up attire, while John McEnroe (on the right) dons an afro and short shorts which was considered stylish in his time. From here we can see fashion integrating in to the sporting sphere.

Figure 37: (from left to right) Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and John McEnroe (Pictures courtesy of and auntiefashion)


4.2 Integration of Fashion into Other Markets and Industries

4.2.1 Complementary Products

We see the influence of fashion on several complementary products, such as cell phones and automobiles. Cell phones

In the recent years, there have been several tie-ups between luxury fashion brands and cell phone manufacturers. One of the most popular one being the tie-ups between LG Electronics and Prada, creating the LG Prada touchscreen mobile phone. Others include a tie-up between Samsung and Giorgio Armani, named Samsung Armani. Also recently, fashion label Versace announced on January 19, 2010, that it’ll be designing and releasing a Versace-branded cell phone in spring of 2010. 

Figure 38: Cellphone manufacturers tie up with luxury brands, such as Prada with LG (left) and Giorgio Armani with Samsung (right) (Photo courtesy ofcameraphonesplaza and ) Automobiles 

Fashion can be seen evidently in automobiles as well, and has always been around since the 1970s. In 1972 and 1973, Gucci paired up with American Motors Corporation (AMC) to produce the AMC Hornet Compact “Sportabout” station wagon that became one of the first American cars to offer special luxury trim package created by a fashion designer. Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln Town Cars also offered Emilio Pucci, Bill Blass, Gianni Versace, Hubert de Givenchy and Valentino designer editions during the 1970s and the 1980s. More recently in 2006 is the Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 Versace edition that became the very first ever designer car, with only twenty black and white cars featuring two-tone black and white trim inside and out, with interiors finished in custom Versace leather, along with Gianni Versace logo plaque. Twenty black and white Lamborghini LP640 Murciélago Versace Roadsters were produced as well. In 2009, Jinyoung Jo, a talented car designer at Hong-ik University, South Korea, created a Chanel Fiole concept car, branded with the name of famed French luxury brand.

Figures 39 and 40: The AMC Hornet was one of the first American cars to have a tie up with a luxury fashion brand to offer special luxury trim package created by a fashion designer (right), while Chanel comes out with a concept car (left) (Photo courtesy of and )

Figure 41: The Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 Versace edition has a limited twenty pieces (Photos courtesy of ) 


The global fashion apparel industry is one of the most important sectors of the economy in terms of investment, revenue, trade and employment generation all over the world.

5.1 Operation of the fashion retail industry fitting into the larger economy

An economy is made up of market exchanges which consists of market, actors and products. Operations of the fashion retail industry include activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. To look at how the fashion retail industry fit into the larger economy, we will discuss about the industry’s participation in the various markets, namely consumer goods markets, industrial markets, business service, and labor market.

5.1.1 Consumer Goods Market

It is a market whereby a seller, typically an organizational actor sells products, a major component of which is a physical good, to buyers, which are typically individual consumers who typically buy products to consume them, rather that to resell them. This is the consumption whereby the consumer consumes the goods produced by the fashion retail industry, where the various retail shops sells their apparels, accessories and shoes to the buyers in the market, where the buyers consumes the good and not sell it to another party. Such shops are usually located in shopping malls and at times online shopping, from the websites of various major brands to no-brand shops that functions on a smaller scale. Such websites are such as The layout of this online shop actually look like the layout of a real shopping mall and it provides greater convenience to consumers as they can purchase their items online without stepping out of their homes. Before consumers can purchase the products, the goods have to be produced, this leads us to the industrial market.


Figure 42: Images of shabby lane shops, Hungary shops and Raffles City (Photos courtesy of, ) and )

5.1.2 Industrial market

Both the buyer and the seller are organizational actors. Products consists of physical goods and services and are typically not bought for individual consumption but for their role in further creation of a product. Manufacturers are mainly the buyers in this industry and the sellers are the ones selling the raw materials. Raw materials are require to produce apparels and accessories, such as textiles. This is the production part of the fashion retail industry, which is the first step in almost all the products in the fashion retail industry. The largest apparel manufacturers and exporters were countries from the Asia-Pacific region such as China, India and Thailand. The other major apparel manufacturing nations were USA, Italy, Germany and Mexico.  In the fashion retail industry, production is almost the most important process in the industry, without production, there will be no goods produced.


Figure 43: Images of materials used for production of fashion pieces such as beads, thread and textiles (Photos coutesy of ,timetobleed.comand )

5.1.3 Business Service Market

The business service market is whereby both the buyer and the seller are organizational actors. Products consist of services such as marketing and advertising. In the fashion industry today, large companies and brands dominate the industry. A new brand that just sprouted into the market will not turn famous overnight, therefore the importance of marketing and advertising, which is the distribution part of the industry. There are various channels in which the apparels can be distributed such as through shopping malls and online shops. As we can see from table 6, distribution is largely through brick and mortar, occupying a total of 92.9% market share. Distributing in the different channels brings about greater exposure of their products. Besides the channels mentioned, other popular channels are such as television advertisements, billboards and online websites.

Table 6: Distribution of sales in US

 Category Sales US$ Billion Market Share (%)
Brick and Mortar 169.256 92.9
Catalog 7.177 3.9
Online/ Internet 5,873 3.2
Total 182.306 100.00

Source: Retail industry information by Barbara Farfan (


Figure 44: Images of advertisements of Marc Jacob and Dolce & Gabbana ( Photos courtesy of and

5.1.4 Labor Market

This market mainly consists of individual who sell their labor to other actors typically the organizations. As we can see from the Industrial market, labor is required, to manufacture the goods. Manufacturing in the fashion retail industry puts labor, capital and land together, using these inputs to create output for the economy by producing the final product. The manufacturing sector creates jobs, therefore the need for labor which is offered by individuals from the labor market. Even from the consumer market, retail shops need people to sell their goods. The business service markets needs people to promote and advertise for their products. Such people required are the demand for labor, which are then matched by the individuals for the labor market.

5.2 Size of the market

Like most retail industry, the size of the fashion retail industry is determined through the amount of sales or transaction in a year. The larger the amount of transaction, the larger the industry.

According to the Census Bureau, the total sales in the US retail industry in 2008 is $4.475 trillion. Total sales of the top ten companies in the global retail industry (6 of which is from US and 4 from Europe) is $978.5 billion in 2007, according to international consulting group, Deloitte. Retailing is the primary driver of the global economy, making such large sums of sales annually.

5.3 Growth of the market and relations to overall economic growth and dynamics

Total sales for the U.S. retail industry declined just 0.1% overall in 2008 as from 2007, according to the Census Bureau, to $4.475 trillion. Retail industry sales declined each of the last six months of 2008. Even though the U.S. is still the most powerful economy in the world it is showing signs of decay.

Using the input-output model, economic growth can be defined as an increase in outputs. Economic growth as « marketization » is an increase in the amount and scope of monetary transaction. Therefore economic growth can be defined as an increase in outputs or sales. Economic dynamics is changes in an economic system over time, particularly those reflected in the behavior of markets, businesses, and the general economy.

According to the US Department of Labor, the number of people working in the US retail industry dropped from 15.5 million in Q4 2007 to 15.3 million as of May, 2008. A decline in employment rate means lesser labor input, a decrease in input also means decreasing output, which meant that economic growth is negative.

The retail industry is US no. 1 growing industry, assuming that since the fashion retail is the top growing and largest in the retail industry, it should have the highest influence on economic growth of the US. A decrease in employment in the US retail industry reflects a decrease in GDP and therefore a slower or negative economic growth year 2007 to 2008. US is the most powerful economy in the world, therefore the performance of its economy will affect the rest of the world adversely as well. A slower economic growth in US will meant a slower economic growth globally as well.


6.1 Economic Regulations

Economic regulations in the fashion retail industry are mainly based on the policies of anti-trust laws, which prohibits anti-competitive behavior and disadvantage business practices. Antitrust laws are designed to encourage competition in the marketplace (Arthur Sullivan et. al., 2003) and prevent market failure. Many countries, mainly the US and European Union, have anti-trust laws, with the latter having provisions under the Treaty of Rome to maintain fair competition.

6.1.1Types of Anti-trust Laws

1. Robinson-Patman Act
2. Clayton Antitrust Act
3. Sherman Antitrust Act
4. Hart-Scott-Rodino Act
5. Federal Trade Commission Act

6.1.2 Types of Anti-Trust Violations

Two types of anti-trust violations are of most concern in this industry, mainly predatory pricing and buyer power. Predatory Pricing

Predatory pricing occurs when a company sells its products below its own cost price, taking a temporary loss so as to drive competitors out of business and achieve a dominant market position. Independent retailers are especially vulnerable, due to the lack of financial reserves to withstand a sustained predatory pricing assault, while their competitors can operate individual outlets at a loss indefinitely. Buyer Power

Buyer power is the ability of big retailers to use their clout to bully suppliers into providing special discounts and favorable terms that are not made available to local businesses.

6.1.3 Importance of Anti-Trust Laws

Anti-trust laws were implemented to prevent the concentrations of wealth in the hands of very few through trusts and monopolies. Such trusts and monopolies erased normal market competition and produced undesirable controls on prices. Antitrust laws were formed to prevent trusts and monopolies from creating restrictions on trade which reduced competition. Orthodox economists like Richard Whish fully acknowledge that perfect competition is seldom observed in the real world, and so aim for what is called « workable competition (Richard Whish, 2004). By using the law, it controls market operations where it can.

6.2 Social Issues and Implemented Regulations

Over the years, the fashion retail industry have also faced many social issues over the production of its goods. Only in recent times, organizations like the United Nations, governments and campaign groups are stepping up their laws and regulations for producers in order to provide a better environment, mainly for the garment workers.

6.2.1 Issues in The Fashion Retail Industry First-world or Third-world?

Whether the market is regulated and/or influenced by the state depends on the development of countries; First-world countries such as USA, UK, etc and Third-world countries such as India, Bangladesh, China, etc. In terms of production in the fashion retail market, garment workers in developing countries have continued to suffer under harmful conditions which demand repetitive manual labor. Mass-produced clothing is often typified by lack of benefits, long working hours and worker representation. While most examples of such conditions are found in third-world countries, clothes made in more industrialized countries may also be manufactured similarly, often employing illegal immigrants. This is mainly due to the drive of these immigrants seeking new economic opportunities and better livelihood at the expense of exploitation (Mark Patrick Taylor, 2007). Ultimately whether it is a First-world or Third-world country, garment workers are exploited mainly due to cheap labor. A Harmful environment

The production of cotton which entails the use of a large amount of pesticides, harmful to the environment and to people. Statistics have shown that nearly 2 billion USD worth of pesticides are used yearly, of which pesticides worth about 819 million USD have been declared poisonous as per the guidelines of the WHO. The health of the workers spraying pesticides in cotton fields are adversely affected. Pesticide poisoning can lead to negative symptoms such as headaches, tremors, loss of consciousness and, in some extreme cases, death. The constant use of toxic pesticides leads to air, water and soil pollution. Apart from the pests, pesticides also cause the death of other small animals and birds consuming them inadvertently. Copyrights Issues

Due to the wide range of clothing, accessories and jeweleries in the market today, many retailers face the issue of copyrighting someone else’s product and this have led to many problematic issues over the years. Fashion-retail powerhouse LVMH has created their own form of brand protection to deal with the growing number of counterfeiting products in the market. Based in France, LVMH has been aided by police operations leading to the arrest of many illegal vendors selling counterfeited products which helped to raise the awareness of buying illegal products in consumers. Many countries have also created organizations and guilds to prevent such issues from arising. In the US, the Fashion Originators’ Guild of America was created to patent and prevent the copying of clothing designs. They provided a registration scheme for manufacturers, who would then collectively boycott retailers if they were caught selling copied items.

A Case Study on Copyright Violation: eBay Inc.

Figure 45: eBay breaking copyright laws again (Photo courtesy of ), managed by American Internet Company eBay Inc, is a shopping website which provides online auctions for people and businesses to buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide. In June 2008, the Paris commercial court ordered eBay to pay nearly 40 million euros in damages to Louis Vuitton for selling fake luxury goods in a ruling due to copyright protection. Further selling of fake luxury perfume which bore the name of Louis Vuitton later that year led to the fining of eBay in which they have to pay LMVH 80,000 euros in damages. Ethical Issues

Animal rights have also brought up ethical issues related to the fashion industry time and time again. The cruelty to animals behind the preparation of a fur coat has been the biggest issue in animal-rights activists as it is currently associated in developed countries with expensive, designer clothing, For example, pain is caused to animals in extracting wool and leather, which most of the time lead to the deaths of these animals.

6.2.2 The Need for Intervention: Garment Workers Immigration Laws and Acts

In recent times, countries like USA and UK have stepped up on their laws and regulations to prevent the exploitation of garment workers. Immigration Acts such as The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 in USA allows an annual limitation of 170,000 visas established for immigrants from Eastern Hemisphere countries with no more than 20,000 per country. This means that garment workers with proper visas are given similar benefits to US Citizens. However, immigration laws and acts are seen as a paradox to the retail industry as many household retail names would then lose substantial amount of sales due to the « disappearance of undocumented workers ». One example would be Roland Kosser, president-owner of ID#, a popular sportshirt and sweatshirt maker in the US who mentioned: « This will cost me $10 million in sales this year… My sewing contractors are telling me they don’t have the workers… » (Cole, Benjamin Mark, 1987). The International Labor Organization (ILO)

Figure 46: International Labor Organization (Photo courtesy of )

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that tackles labour issues and has received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 (Alcock, A, 1971). The ILO organizes the International Labor Conference in Geneva every year, and has to a great extent, successfully tackled the issues, among others, of forced labor and child labor. However, though many countries have recognized the regulations set by the ILO, many countries continue to exploit the workers by not fully enforcing the ILO’s laws and treaties. The ILO in all its efforts has proven to contribute to an improving human rights situation for the world’s Indigenous peoples. Non-Profit Organizations and Campaign Groups

Coalitions of Non-Profit Organizations, many designer and campaign groups have sought to improve these conditions by sponsoring awareness-raising campaigns, mainly through world-wide events which draw the attention of the media and the public. Some of the major groups are discussed below: Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC)

Figure 47: Logo of Clean Clothes Campaign (Photo courtesy of )

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries. Formed in the Netherlands in 1989, the CCC has campaigns in 14 European countries and works with a partner network of more than 250 organizations around the world.


The CCC has developed a « Code of Labour Practices for the Apparel Industry Including Sportswear » based upon the conventions of the United Nations’ International Labour Organization. The principles set forth in this code include, among others, a minimum employment age and safe working requirements. The CCC also pressures retailers and manufacturers to adopt the Code of Labour Practices and many successful campaigning by the CCC has led many businesses to adopt this Code of standards for suppliers. The Garment Industry Development Corporation (GIDC)

Figure 48: Images of GIDC (Photo courtesy of )

The Garment Industry Development Corporation (GIDC) is a non-profit organization established in 1984 and has evolved into a multi-tiered service organization providing marketing, buyer referrals, and training and technical assistance to New York apparel manufacturers and workers. GIDC’s main aim is to provide for a worker’s education and GIDC’s Board of Directors include some of the top leaders of New York’s Fashion industry including; Elie Tahari; Thomas Murry – COO, Calvin Klein; and Bud Konheim – CEO, Nicole Miller. This shows the awareness of top fashion retail players who are concern about the rights and working environment of their workers.

6.2.3 The Need for Intervention: Animal Rights People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Figure 49: Logo of PETA (Photo courtesy of )

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the US claims the largest animal rights group status in the world. PETA focuses on four core issues: factory farming, fur farming, animal testing and animals in entertainment and has continuously campaigned against the killing of animals. In the fashion retail industry, PETA, along with other animal rights groups have called for attention to the extraction of fur and other practices they consider cruel.


Online shopping is the process whereby consumers directly buy goods, without an intermediary service over the Internet. Online shopping provides many advantages such as convenience, price and selection and information and reviews, where ratings from other fellow shoppers are given as an indicator of how popular an item is.

In the realm of fashion retail, we look to fashion blogs as the key to online shopping. A fashion blog can cover many things such as clothing and accessories. They cover fashion at all levels from the biggest names to the smallest indie designers and clothing worn by people on the street (Newman, Andrew Adam, 2006). Influential fashion blogs include Catwalk Queen and Style Bubble in the United Kingdom, with the latter named among the Evening Standard’s ‘London’s 1000 most influential’ in the Fashion category.

Recent media reports mentioned that many fashion blogs have become increasingly profitable, and that the influence of fashion blogs within the fashion industry is expanding. As fashion is driven by trends and fashion blogs provide new ways to follow these trends, it is most certainly they will have a considerable long-term influence on the fashion retail industry. It could also be said that fashion blogs are now developing from a hobby, to a viable new media business.


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Un article passionant sur le luxe à Gaza, paru dans la presse arabe…

Rédigé par le Jul 13th, 2011  

Un article passionnant sur l’explosion économique de la bande de Gaza vient d’être publiée par l’agence palestinienne Maan News Agency. L’article n’a été publié que sur le site en arabe et pour pouvoir le partager avec le plus grand nous avons décidé de l’adapter en français… Histoire de faire savoir quelques vérités non-dites dans les langues non-arabes…

La Bande de Gaza est en plein boom touristique avec l’ouverture d’un certain nombre de stations balnéaires, de simples hôtels ou d’hôtels de luxe ; avec comme dernier exemple en date, les derniers espaces touristiques dans le nord. Un boom qui n’est pas cependant conforme avec le faible niveau des salaires dans la bande de Gaza où la situation économique est compliquée à cause du blocus.

L’ouverture de cette dernière station balnéaire dans le nord de la Bande de Gaza n’est pas réellement ouverte à tout le monde malgré ses superbes divertissements. Les prix affichés sont plus a la portée de la bourse des fonctionnaires du gouvernement qu’a celle de la population locale. Par exemple, profiter du dernier téléphone mobile à la mode requiert un salaire mirobolant.

L’hôtel Deira

Malgré tout, ces prix n’arrêtent pas tous les gazaouis dont beaucoup puisent dans leur propre dette pour aller dans ces restaurants ou passer une nuit dans un hôtel de luxe. Un problème de taille pour les propriétaires des nombreux restaurants de luxe qui expliquent que beaucoup de clients viennent “manger, boire et se divertir en partant sans payer au motif que leur salaire n’a pas encore été reçu ce mois-ci.”

Mohamed Ismaïl Haniyeh, responsable d’un restaurant, explique à notre correspondant : “tous nos clients sont membres des Organisations Non-Gouvernementale, des businessmans étrangers et des journalistes. Seul 20% de notre personnel est occupé à travailler à plein temps dans une journée normale.

Abou Issam, un client de ce restaurant 5 étoiles de Gaza, explique que ses notes ne dépassent jamais les 1.600 shekels (320€) et qu’il “réfléchit mille fois avant d’y entrer” parce que sa famille est composée de six personnes et qu’une pareille dépense pourrait nuire à la santé économique de son foyer.” Il ajoute : ” Nous ne pouvons en aucun cas y aller tous ensemble, je préfère acheter des légumes, de la viande et demander à ma femme qu’elle me prépare les mêmes plats que ceux proposés aux  touristes.”

Restaurant Rootsclub

A la question de savoir si, fréquenter ces restaurants, ce n’est pas comme aller à l’étranger, Abou Issam répond : “mes enfants et moi voyageons à l’étranger bien que le prix des billets soient très chers, mais  profiter d’un tel restaurant pour se divertir l’été, c’est, il est vrai, suffisant.”

Le restaurant luxueux  Deira offre le même standing de prestations,  la clientèle est bourgeoise, ou appartenant aux ONG. Samir Sutton, Directeur Général de l’Hôtel et du restaurant Deira, explique que son institution jouit d’une réputation de “première classe” et que de grandes familles y dinent régulièrement. “Parce que les services touristiques dans la bande de Gaza ne sont pas des services de base pour les citoyens, mon restaurant devient un plaisir pour les riches et les propriétaires aux revenus élevés.”
Quand aux moins chanceux comme Faihmad, en économisant de l’argent toute l’année, il a pu s’offrir son spa annuel et même le trajet en taxi pour y aller…

Un article pour le moins intéressant qui offre une réponse cinglante à l’article du Nouvel Obs intitulé “selon les internautes israéliens, il y a des hôtels de Luxe à Gaza, vraiment?” ou la journaliste explique que s’il y a bien quelques espaces de luxe, tout le monde n’en profite pas. Peut-être la journaliste devrait t-elle comprendre que ce qui fait le luxe, c’est que tout le monde ne puisse pas en profiter, non ? Une chose est sûre, dans l’article que nous avons traduit, nous voyons bien que le quidam ne peut pas se payer le restaurant en question… Comme tout à un chacun, peu importe le pays au monde où il vit‏.

Adapté de l’arabe par Niso Amzar, avec le concours de Margalit Meyer – JSSNews

UAE retail sector to grow 8%

Growing mall space to drive growth bertween 2011-2014: report

Published Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The retail sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UAE for the past few years, and the country is emerging as the most attractive retail destination in the world on the back of a strong economy, rising population, increasing consumer confidence, and soaring domestic consumption, a new report says.

According to “UAE Retail Industry Analysis” by India’s RNOCS, favorable government policies and active participation of the private sector have facilitated the country’s retail environment. On the back of these factors, the UAE retail industry is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 8 per cent during 2011-2014, the report states.

As per the findings of the report, there has been a rise in the construction of retail mall space in the country. Moreover, Dubai has become the hub of retail construction developments in the UAE. Fast inflow of foreign retailers is fuelling growth in the shopping mall retail area development.

The number of shopping malls has multiplied at the fastest pace during the past few years. This has resulted in higher availably of shopping space for consumers and is boosting retail sales in the region. Moreover, the cumulative retail space supply is projected to reach 5.75mn sq mt by end-2014.

The report shows that the colour cosmetic products market in the UAE has shown an impressive performance and is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 28 per cent during 2009-2014. Besides, the UAE has secured second rank in the presence of international retailers in its retail market. And Dubai has been ranked No. 1 in international retailers presence in 2011 sharing the rank with London. Fast inflow of foreign retailers is fuelling growth in the shopping mall retail area development.

Besides, rapid development of modern retail infrastructure is luring consumers for convenient shopping experience and transforming into high retail spending. Per capita gross leasable area (GLA) is also increasing in the country and is expected to reach nearly one square metres in the coming years.