I encourage everyone to watch the video above, which provides an excellent wrap-up for FASH455 and reminds us the meaning and significance of our course. The names of several experts featured in the video should sound familiar to you too, including David Spooner (former U.S. Chief Textile Negotiator and Assistant Secretary of Commerce), Julia Hughes (president of the US Fashion Industry Association) and Auggie Tantillo (president of the National Council of Textile Organizations).
First of all, I hope students can take away essential knowledge about textile and apparel (T&A) trade & sourcing from FASH455. As you may recall from the video, in FASH455 we’ve examined the phenomenon of globalization and its implications; we also discussed various trade theories and the general pattern of the evolution of T&A industry in a country’s industrialization process; we further explored three primary T&A supply chains in the world (namely the Western-Hemisphere supply chain, “Factory Asia” supply chain based on the flying geese model and the phenomenon of intra-region T&A trade in Europe); last but not least, we looked at trade policies that are unique to the T&A sector (e.g.,: tariff, the quota system, and the yarn-forward rules of origin) as well as the complicated economic, social and political factors behind the making of these trade policies. No matter your dream job is to be a fashion designer, buyer, merchandiser, sourcing specialist or marketing analyst, understanding how trade and sourcing work will be highly relevant and beneficial to your future career given the global nature of today’s fashion industry.
Second, I hope FASH455 helps students shape a big picture vision of the T&A industry in the 21st-century world economy and provides students a fresh new perspective of looking at the world. Throughout the semester, we’ve examined many critical, timely and pressing global agendas that are highly relevant to the T&A industry, from apparel companies’ social responsibility practices, the debate on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Trump Administration’s trade policy agenda to the controversy of second-hand clothing trade. It is critical to keep in mind that we wear more than just clothes: We also wear the global economy, international business, public policy and trade politics that make affordable, fashionable, and safe clothes possible and available for hardworking families. This is also the message from many of our distinguished guest speakers this semester, and I do hope you find these special learning events enlightening and inspiring.
Likewise, I hope FASH455 can put students into thinking the meaning of being a FASH major (as well as a college graduate) and how to contribute to the world we are living today positively. A popular misconception is that T&A is just about “sewing,” “fashion magazine,” “shopping” and “Project Runway.” In fact, as one of the largest and most economically influential sectors in the world today, T&A industry plays a critical and unique role in creating jobs, promoting economic development, enhancing human development and reducing poverty. As we mentioned in the class, globally over 120 million people remain directly employed in the T&A industry, a good proportion of whom are females living in poor rural areas. For most developing countries, T&A usually accounts for 70%–90% of their total merchandise exports and provide one of the very few opportunities for these countries to participate in globalization. Indeed, T&A is such an impactful sector, and we are as important as any other majors on the campus!
Last but not least, I hope from taking FASH455, students can take away meaningful questions that can inspire their future study and even life’s pursuit. For example:
- How to make the growth of global textile and apparel trade more inclusive and equal?
- How can trade policy promote and support textile and apparel manufacturing in the United States?
- How to make sure that tragedies like the Rana Plaza building collapse will never happen again?
- How will automation in apparel manufacturing change the future landscape of apparel sourcing?
- How to use trade policy as a tool to solve some tough global issues such as labor practices and environmental standard?
- Is inequality a problem caused by global trade? If global trade is the problem, what is the alternative?
These questions have no good answers yet. But they are waiting for you, the young professional and the new generation of leaders, to write the history, based on your knowledge, wisdom, responsibility, courage, and creativity!
So what do you take away from FASH455? Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.