Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Business of Fashion

When the first human being, in Eden or on earth, covered his body with leaves, or later with an animal skin, the fashion industry was founded at that time. Though we are not familiar with the style and attire of that time until the ancient civilizations preserved few images in the solidity of rocks, through cave paintings and through rock-cut sculptures. Terra Cotta figurines of the oldest Harappan Age show interesting headdresses that can be compared with any modern hairstyle with a heavy look. The Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro with bangles in her arms is not behind any fashion sculpt of any age. While no one can deny the allure and glamour of Cleopatra; a woman with great political skills and a long nose, who crafted many fashion styles from jewelry to outfits of the great Egyptian Empire of Scissors.

But fashion is not only associated to women always! In ancient times of Cleopatra, Scissors always wore clothes that were royal, expensive, stylistic, attractive and special. At the same Egyptian soil, the Pharaohs were never behind. The great Biblical Character of Moses, if taken as an Egyptian Prince, was always a portrayed, in tales and later in movies, in a charismatic outfit. While in the Western part of the globe, the Greeks and Romans not only marked high standards in Art, Architecture, and Warfare, but their unique and intricate concepts of a perfect and godlike human body, especially of males, supported the appealing army uniforms and court-wears.

The supernatural characters of illustrious Greek, Egyptian and Indian Mythologies did provide extraordinary range of apparel; well preserved in the form of painting and sculpture. These ancient models are still the greatest sources of inspiration for modern day fashion designers and the origins of the evolved form of cultural trends prevailed through continents from Australia to America and from Asia to Africa. Cultural influences are stronger when we consider the economic aspect of the fashion industry. Business needs market where it can present fresh ideas and products in every new day. Although in this global age, acculturation is very much on. But even then there are many cultural aspects that can instigate or impede certain trends. A colorful bikini is a great fashion market item in Western or secular and modern cultures, but it is almost a taboo in some rigid and fundamental areas. Contrary to that, a veil is popular in fundamental countries, but has no market in secular or modern world. However, so many fashion articles could get the status of cross-cultural ambition. Especially in ornaments, there is not much difference across the globe with exception of little diversity in shape, material and style. Earrings, bracelets, pendants, bangles and rings are always, and everywhere, in fashion since ages having big market scope in all societies and cultures.

On the individual level, fashion is not just a simple word or an uncomplicated attitude, or even an overwhelming desire. Fashion is a multifarious dogma that can influence an individual in many ways.
"As process it is [fashion] sustained through some complex amalgamation of inspiration, imitation and institutionalization, all of which seem necessary, even though the nature and degree of their fusion is, as we can infer from fashion history, quite variable." (Fred Davis. Fashion, Culture and Identity. P. 123) Therefore, the multifaceted incorporation of fashion, where force an individual at the same time, it also institutionalize itself on many grounds. This institutionalization is not only at the academic level, but due to its capacity of holding an individual, society, or even the whole world has created a huge market for investors.

This feature has made fashion, throughout past decades, an industry with small to bulk product possibility that can be marketed all around the world. It attracted many business tycoons and groups of companies to invest in fashion industry, or to label some of their products as fashion products. This idea initially covered the clothes brand but soon after, it encompassed every utility of everyday life. From earrings to pendants, from watches to glasses, from shoes to wallets, from perfumes to hairstyles, everything was produced and marketed, exported and imported on such a huge scale that it actually influenced the economy of various countries. Apart from the individual fashion, bathroom accessories, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom d├ęcor, landscaping of gardens and lawns, furniture, automobiles, electronics or even language accents, everything got under the broad term of fashion. Products singularly and brands collectively helped and polished lifestyle across the continents. So, inevitably fashion market got vitality.

Despite quality, comfort and durability the exclusivity of a product and its luxurious look are the reasons that produce scope for a product to be marketed. That is the market policy of almost every fashion company revolves around these features. Simultaneously, the marketing and availability of various products have developed the customers' sense of selection and exposure with a comparative buying power. Fashion is not always brand conscious; it is item based as well. Sometime, the need for a particular item may force us to go beyond the brand-range and select something less popular. This is a challenge all the famous brands have to cope with. Ian Griffiths and Nicola White, in their edited work: The Fashion Business- Theory, Practice, Image, commented on item shopping as: "Item shopping is still very much part of our lives, but market saturation has taken its toll and replacement purchases of core product continue to decline. Added to this is the changing profile of the customer, who, through constant exposure, is becoming wiser, more astute, more confident in mixing products and consequently, likely to be less brand loyal."

The customer satisfaction is very important in the fashion industry; either it is attained by making customer needful for an upcoming product through advertising, or by providing him what he is striving for. The former caused the creative and design department to experiment with new ideas and shapes while the latter forced the quality controlled production with maintained standards. Modern day fashion is rapid, short lived, more corporate in its structure, and psychological than ever before. Due to better and quick sources of communication and information, the international or external markets are open for every fashion company to do business, multinational companies can be found with variety of products in all the continents with complex network and appropriate marketing policies according to the socio-cultural requirements of a certain country. Especially, when we talk about the couture and cosmetics, contemporary trends are getting more and more cross-cultural due to viewership of various fashion channels on TV. This is far quicker source than the print media. So, the skills and concepts are also crossing the geographical and ideological boundaries of different parts of the world regardless of ethnic rigidity and conventionalism. That is one reason that fashion is also taken as the reflection of the progress in some developing countries. Fred Divis described clothing as a visual metaphor in his compilation; Fashion, Culture and Identity: "As visual metaphor the clothing that is dress (one should perhaps distinguish between the two) is capable of communicating many things including something as subtle, for example, as the wearer's reflexive awareness..."

This is what has made fashion companies responsible for customer care at the same time, when they were thinking to be profitable. You can find friendly policies of such companies towards its employees, suppliers and customers. Together with the advertising campaigns, Fashion Weeks with new designs and colors, serve additionally to promote new concepts. These Fashion Weeks not only display an array of new products, but also serve to communicate with the audience visually. Dresses and accessories worn by models doing catwalk, are more lively and enthralling than the mere display on mannequins. Normally with a range of Fall, Spring, Summer and Winter collection, Fashion Weeks boost market demands and promote its associated businesses as well. Fashion Shows now have become cultural events which are happily sponsored by the corporate sector.

At modern day fashion companies, there is an underlying and long standing commitment to ethical trading, based upon the belief, that business can be both profitable and responsible. So, fashion companies believe that building meaningful long term relationships with employees, suppliers and communities is good business practice for them and is what the customers expect popular brands. This is, and always has been, the founding principle of different brands as Corporate-Social responsibility. Fashion is not only a phenomenon for luxurious life, but this concept deals with humanity as well. True meaning of fashion is to put life at ease and to facilitate humanity with its respective life style. That is why, modern fashion companies are conscious for the fact of supporting special people of society with special needs. This phenomenon is causing fashion to be responsive towards special people.

Therefore, the market and its demands may vary from community to community. For example, the range may get different in a London store in comparison with the variety at a Singapore or China store. No doubt, in the modern world, 'East meets West' but climate, culture, sociology and psychological needs can force fashion designers and companies to provide a vast canvas for the diversity of customers worldwide. But there are few items that are evergreen. Jeans and Bags are such commodities that are always in demand and ask for the latest styles and comfort at the same time.

Modern day fashion is global, human, culture and society friendly. At one end it emphasizes collective psychology and trends of a society, and at the other end, it deals with the individual needs of customer care. Healthy trends, balanced life, and busy lifestyle are, what the modern fashion companies have to consider deeply. It is no more a matter of looking good and attractive, true fashion and accessories join comfort and trend together. Fashion companies are somehow, have become institutes that are shaping behaviors, psychology and healthy and innovative thinking. The concept of being relaxed and making others too, by wearing good looking, comfortable, trendy and eye-catching outfits in soothing or energetic colors, is the order of the modern day.

Fashion Jobs and Fashion Career Advice

Picking one out of many fashion jobs generally is an overwhelming challenge. There are several different opportunities in the fashion industry that you might not be sure which one is best for you. With the high demand for fashion jobs, you need to be sure of what it is that you want to do so you can get started on pursuing your dream in this competitive industry. Below you will find descriptions for several fashion jobs and, subsequently, be one step closer to establishing your career in the fashion industry.

1. Fashion Designer
Thanks to shows like Project Runway, there are many people whose curiosity has been rose towards the fashion industry, exclusively, fashion design. A career as a fashion designer seems extravagant and rewarding but it takes a whole lot of work. A fashion designer must be well-informed of the latest trends (and sometimes even be ahead of them) and have the creativity to conceptualize new designs. A fashion designer creates sketches, whether by hand or with computer-aided design (CAD) software, of their designs and must be familiar with fabrics and materials in order to create samples that show what the final product would look like. As a fashion designer you can specialize in clothing design, footwear or accessories. Fashion jobs like that of a fashion designer are prolonged with grueling hours of intensive work and lots of traveling if you want to promote your designs. Fashion designers work under pressure to meet deadlines and make an impression on fashion buyers and other potential clients. As a fashion designer you would need not only talent and creativity but also thick skin and dedication.

2. Fashion Merchandising
Fashion jobs in merchandising can be very challenging. A fashion merchandiser must know what consumers really want, how to present it to them, what they want to pay for it and how to lure them to purchase. A fashion merchandiser is not just an expert in fashion but must also have strong business, financial and advertising skills. As a fashion designer you might find yourself creating budgets, tracking profits and losses, tracking inventory, developing marketing strategies and even putting together creative visual displays to draw in consumers. It's a career that entails many different roles but also has many opportunities to grow and advance in.

3. Fashion Buyer
Fashion buyers are among the most crucial people for brands and companies. They must have good communication skills, be aggressive, organized and driven. As a fashion buyer you work hand in hand with designers, merchandisers and other key people to select what pieces to present to consumers and ensure that best-sellers are continually available. Buyers must be mindful of both current and future trends so they can make the right choices of clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. to ensure high profits. Working with suppliers to negotiate prices suggests that a fashion buyer must have good interpersonal skills, be educated in market costs and also in consumer demands. Fashion buyers must be ready to work under pressure, travel and research and analyze in order to make practical decisions on what products to offer their target customer base.

4. Fashion Director
Fashion directors, also known as creative directors or fashion coordinators, are in charge of the image and look of a store, magazine or a fashion house. They are accountable for that first impression given when people look at ad campaigns, shoots and even fashion films. A fashion director must make sure that the models, photographers, location and concepts characterize the store, brand, or magazine in the best and most genuine way. One of the most well known creative directors in the industry is Grace Coddington who, alongside Anna Wintour and other industry professionals, are a part of American Vogue. In the documentary "The September Issue" we are able to see Coddington showing us her best work and the steps she takes to produce the magnificent spreads in Vogue. Now, don't think it will be a snap landing one of these fashion jobs. Be prepared for long hours of work, creative stumps, frequent traveling, crazy deadlines, and being willing to go back to the drawing board time and time again. Remember, as a fashion director you are responsible for the image of a brand; you produce something that the whole world will see. People will base their opinions on what you present to them. As one of the top fashion jobs in the industry, the pressure is on!
Fashion Jobs - The List Goes On

5. Fashion Forecaster
Probably one of the highest ranking careers in the fashion industry, fashion forecasters do just that, forecast the future trends and styles. This is much more sophisticated than forecasting the weather. Not only does a fashion forecaster need to have in depth knowledge of fashion but he or she must also be creative and surely have the skills necessary to research and analyze potential trends, colors, fabrics and patterns. Fashion forecasters seek inspiration in everything from movies, music, even science and technology. Getting a position as a fashion forecaster is one of the most prestigious of all fashion jobs you could aspire to.

6. Fashion Stylist
A fashion stylist has the easy (or is it?) task of making someone look good. A stylist must be familiar with what colors, fabrics and styles work best to flatter someone's shape while also knowing ways to accessorize and finish the perfect outfit. Fashion stylists are responsible for picking the best pieces for photoshoots, events, etc. and putting them together for the final product. A stylist's reputation lies on how good the client looks and, in the case of ad campaigns, whether or not the stylist can communicate the image and vision of a product. Don't be surprised if, as a fashion stylist, you find yourself traveling for motivation or shopping for clothing, or even spending a day (or a few) revamping a client's closet. Finding fashion jobs for stylists can be as uncomplicated as working as a personal shopper or styling photo shoots for websites or local magazines or newspapers.

7. Fashion Photographer
It's not just about knowing just how to take a good picture. Fashion photographers basically have two fields to be good at: fashion and photography. The photography part consists of knowing what angles, lighting, etc. As far as the fashion, photographers really need to be experts in that as well. A fashion photographer should always know what the best trends are, top designers, top fashion events and any other heavy hitter aspects of the industry. Fashion jobs in this field can consist of taking pictures for model portfolios, ad campaigns, and fashion shows. Fashion photographers are responsible for producing a shot that requires excellent technical skills and extensive fashion knowledge. For example, when a fashion photographer goes to shoot at a fashion show he or she must know exactly when to snap the shot of that model wearing the flowing dress. The picture must showcase how the fabric moves and flows instead of displaying a dress that falls limp and drags on the floor. A fashion photographer works hand in hand with stylists, makeup artists and models to ensure that the final product is efficient in sending a visual message.

8. Fashion Editor
Fashion editors supervise the direction of a fashion publication, website and other media. They are in charge for editing a fashion writer's work, making suggestions, and researching the possibilities of future stories. Fashion writers must be aware of trends and classics to assure that coverage is provided for the target audience. A fashion editor works under the pressure of meeting deadlines, supervising writers, discovering features and fresh ideas all while staying current on the industry and scanning the levels of competition. Some of the qualities necessary for one of these fashion jobs are being organized, punctual, able to communicate verbally and have impeccable writing and journalistic skills. Being one of the most competitive fashion jobs in the industry, a fashion editor should be ready to put some hard work in and spend long nights brewing up excellent, creative content.

9. Fashion Writer
Being a fashion writer is not as easy as picking up a pen and paper (or laptop, tablet, etc.) but includes extensive amounts of research. Fashion writers must be current on their knowledge of fashion and creative when drumming up writing ideas. Of course, outstanding writing skills are a must and meeting deadlines are also fundamental in this career. Fashion writers can execute interviews, cover fashion events and supply reviews of products. You have a choice of working as a freelance writer, with television shows, websites, blogs, smaller publications like local magazines and newspapers or with major publications such as Vogue or Elle, among others. This is one of those fashion jobs where you can find many opportunities and can be fairly simple to get started.

10. Fashion PR (Fashion Public Relations)
Creating a good consumer opinion is of the utmost importance for this fashion job. Where advertising and marketing can create a consumer desire to purchase a certain fashion item, public relations handles the image in its relation to the public eye. Public opinion can gauge the success and longevity of a company. Out of all the fashion jobs mentioned, fashion pr is the piece that ties it all together.