About FASH455




FASH455, which opens to the entire University of Delaware (UD) community, is a university breadth course in the social and behavioral sciences category and a College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) breadth course in Group C (Social and Behavioral Sciences).

FASH455 is a department core requirement for B.S. in Fashion Design and Product Innovation, and B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and Management. The course also fulfills the requirement for Minor in Fashion Management, Minor in Sustainable Apparel and Textile Innovation, and Minor in Global Studies.

The latest FASH455 course schedule can be found HERE. 

FASH455 will help you understand how international trade and trade policy work in the 21st-century world economy, which is important to know for EVERY college student. Specifically, the course will explore fashion apparel supply chains and many critical global agendas that are associated with the fashion apparel industry, including:

  • Globalization
  • Trade and economic development
  • Trade and corporate social responsibility
  • Debate on trade liberalization and trade protection
  • Free trade agreement and trade politics
  • International trade and foreign relations


The textile and apparel industry is a thick textbook study far beyond fiber, yarn, fabric, and clothing.  It is THE industry that triggered the first Industrial Revolution, among those sectors that embraced globalization early and still plays a critical role in the global economy with cross-cutting economic, social and political influences in the 21st century.   Some key facts about this sector today:

Textiles and apparel remain one of the world’s largest and economically most influential industries in the 21st century. Globally, the market value of textiles, apparel and apparel retailing totaled $2,000 billion annually. In the United States, clothing and accessories sales contributed $197 billion to the U.S. economy in 2020. 

The textile and apparel industry, mainly through international trade and sourcing, plays a uniquely critical role in creating jobs, promoting economic development, enhancing human development and reducing poverty. Globally, over 120 Million people remain directly employed in the textile and apparel industries today, a good proportion of whom are females living in poor rural areas. Particularly, for most developing countries, the textile and apparel sector accounts for 60%–90% of their total merchandise exports and provides one of the very few opportunities for these countries to participate in globalization.

The textile and apparel industry remains a strong presence in the United States in the 21st century. However, the sector has been critically different from the past because of globalization and technological advancement. Across the supply chain, the U.S. textile and apparel industry directly employs more than 1.8 million people, ranging from textile mill workers, sourcing managers, compliance specialists, retail floor associates, merchandisers buyers, and marketing professionals, to name a few. According to the World Trade Organization, the United States is still the world’s fourth-largest textile exporter.  The U.S. textile and apparel exports in 2020 totaled $19.3 billion, which were destined more than 50 countries worldwide. U.S. branded apparel also can be found in almost every corner of the world marketplace. 

The textile and apparel industry might be the only sector other than agriculture that is so heavily regulated by trade policies. Because of its global presence and the complicated social, economic and political factors associated with the sector, textile and apparel industry actively involves in almost all critical bilateral, regional and multilateral trade policy debates today. This is the case no matter for responding to the  U.S.-China tariff war (U.S. section 301 action), negotiating and ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA or NAFTA 2.0), renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act(AGOA), enforcing  labor & environmental standards in trade programs, and restricting imports in the protection of domestic textile manufacturing sector.  

3 thoughts on “About FASH455”

  1. Dr. Lu, a pleasure reading of you and your course. I have been in the apparel industry for more than 30 years, Latin America is my territory. Having worked as an IE in sewing plants, having sold specialized sewing machines (and 3D scanners) and for the last 15 years as a consultant/conference speaker (mostly with TC2) I appreciate your focus. Maybe we can collaborate?

  2. I have learned a lot from taking this course including the global environment of the fashion industry along with a more in depth grasp of trade and policies within the industry.
    As far as the global climate of the industry I was never fully aware of all the unethical practices that happen during the manufacturing process. Without this class, the Rana Plaza incident would have never been brought to my attention, which was an event that killed over 1,000 employees due to the fact that the building had safety and fire hazards that were overlooked. Learning about this event opened my eyes to practices that continue on a daily basis that are not considered ethical by US standards. Along with that, it has taught me to remember these issues as I advance in my career path to fully grasp why companies may be working with certain countries over others. The quickest and cheapest option may not always be the best option due to outside factors such as safety regulations along with ethic practices that are within that certain factory.
    Coming into this class I knew that most garments now a days were produced overseas but I did not understand all the policies that go into that and what makes certain countries more desirable to work with than others. Now after learning about different trade agreements I have learned that countries such as Mexico and ones in Central America are more cost effective to work with in some cases due to the fact that there is less import tariffs than other countries. I also learned the reason that China is so desirable to work with is due to the fact that they have the access to labor that many other countries do not have since they have such a high population rate. China can produce things at a very high volume in comparison to other countries.
    Overall, I have learned a great deal within this class and found it a extremely beneficial course in my University career. The things mentioned above are just a few of the many takeaways that will follow me well beyond this class.

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