What Do You Take Away from FASH455?

I encourage everyone to watch the two short videos above, which provide an excellent wrap-up for FASH455 and remind us of the meaning and significance of our course.

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:

Whether 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 way 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 the impact of COVID-19 on apparel sourcing and trade, apparel companies’ social responsibility practices, the debate on the textile and apparel provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA or NAFTA2.0)  to the controversy of forced labor in the apparel supply chain. It is critical to keep in mind that we wear more than 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 about why “fashion” matters. A popular misconception is that “fashion and apparel” are 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, the fashion 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, over 120 million people remain directly employed in the T&A industry globally, and a good proportion of them are females living in poor rural areas. For most developing countries, T&A typically accounts for 70%–90% of their total merchandise exports and provides one of the very few opportunities for these countries to participate in globalization. COVID-19, in particular, reveals the enormous social and economic impacts of the apparel sector and many problems that need our continuous efforts to make an improvement. 

Last but not least, I hope from taking FASH455, students will take away meaningful questions that can inspire their future study and even life’s pursuit. For example:

  • How has COVID-19 fundamentally and permanently changed the pattern of apparel sourcing and trade? What role can the textile and apparel sector play in contributing to the post-COVID economic recovery?
  • How to make apparel sourcing and trade more sustainable, socially responsible and transparent? What needs to be done further–fashion companies, government, consumers and other stakeholders?
  • How will automation, AI and digital technologies change the future landscape of apparel sourcing, trade, and job opportunities? What may fashion education look like ten years from now given the shifting nature of the industry?
  • How to use trade policy as a tool to solve challenging global issues such as forced labor and climate change? Or shall we leave these issues to the market forces?
  • Is inequality a problem caused by global trade? If global trade is the problem, what can be the alternative?

We don’t have solid answers yet for these questions. However, these issues 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.

Dr. Sheng Lu

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

31 thoughts on “What Do You Take Away from FASH455?”

  1. FASH455 has helped me not only gain a better understanding of different trade policies within the Global Textile and Apparel Industry, but really opened my eyes as to how interconnected many different countries are. I have been able to see the world through a different lens and what I have learned has been super interesting. Additionally, it has been really interesting applying what I have learned in class to real world situations, such as the impact of COVID-19 on the Global Textile and Apparel Industry and the impact of the shipping crisis on the holiday shopping season. I now understand why fashion matters and is important to our global economy, as it shapes the economies of many developing countries, as it creates jobs, promotes economic development, enhances human development, and reduces poverty. Overall, I have really enjoyed the course material in FASh455 and will take what I have learned in this course with me to future job opportunities.

  2. FASH455 has been a great learning experience for me as I was able to gain insights into how important is the fashion industry to the global economy and how trade policies affect the T&A industry. The course enhanced my understanding of the concept of globalization and how complicated the global supply chains are as the world has become more interconnected than ever before. It taught me that as a fashion merchandiser, there is much more to be considered than mere clothing but rather factors such as economy, politics, legislations, and social compliance, which all have huge impacts on choosing sourcing strategies. It was particularly interesting for me to learn the various trade theories as they can be applied to many different situations and allow me to see the world from a new perspective. Overall, I found the course to be very beneficial and I can’t wait to apply them to my future career.

    1. I can truly agree with you. The class has made me a better designer because now I don’t just think about what fabric will look good for my designs but the process the garment went through to be made.

  3. Prior to this course I had very little knowledge on global textile and apparel trade and sourcing. Overall I gained more knowledge on how important the global economy and the effect trade and trade policies have on the industry. Going off of that I never really knew about trade policies such as CAFTA and NAFTA and never really realized how there are winners and losers of every trade policy. Another takeaway from this course is learning about all the trade theories such as absolute advantage and overall how they explain why certain countries are exporters of apparel and some are exporters of textiles. My last takeaway from this course is just overall how important the supply chain is and seeing first hand events such as covid-19 and the recent shipping crisis can really effect the supply chain.

    1. glad to learn this! and CAFTA-DR, together with the growing interest in near-sourcing, will remain a hot topic for the fashion industry in the year ahead!

  4. Fashion 455 has taught me valuable lessons about the industry and broadened my total understanding of global trade. I find that we often learn in a bubble and do not look at things from an international viewpoint. This class gave me that broaden look and was very eye opening. Global textile and apparel trade is now very interesting to me and I hope to learn more about these issues that are present in our world, as I continue my education. The topic of this class that I found the most interesting had to do with the overall supply chain and how much we do not know about the industry and what actions are occurring daily.

    1. I hope many years later, when you see news headlines about trade and trade policy, you will still recall FASH455:-)

  5. FASH455 has been my favorite course within the fashion curriculum thus far. The topics regarding trade policy and the global fashion supply chain is very interesting and touches on the important subject of sustainability. In the future, I hope to obtain a career related to sustainability within the fashion industry and this course helped me to gain a better understanding of the possible job options. Not to mention, the guest speakers who were able to meet with us were very engaging and inspiring. I hope to be able to work with trade policy and supply chain challenges just like them. Subsequently, this course has expanded my global mindset and helped me to realize just how much effort goes into making a single product. Now that I fully understand the product development process I am much more grateful for the things that I possess. I am so glad that I was able to take this FASH455 this semester, and I hope to take similar courses in the near future.

    1. Thank you for a great semester also! would love to offer FASH455 season 2 at some point, in which students can conduct original studies and propose solutions for many grand challenges we are still facing. And you should definitely consider the AAFA internship!

  6. This course has stood out to me more than any other courses that I had to take for my fashion major. The reason behind why I was able to take so much out of this course was due to the fact that no matter what path I decide to take in the fashion industry after graduating, understanding the ins and outs of how the textile and apparel industry work is crucial. I especially took an interest in the policies being placed and debates going on in the industry and how those policies and decisions affect the industry financially and how they benefit or damage the trade and sustainability issues going on in the industry. In this course, I learned the importance of when deciding on policies and change, looking at every sector and seeing how the sector will be affected, is critical to examine to make sure there are as few disruptions in the industry and supply chain. For example, one policy that stood out to be, which happened to be one of the last topics covered in class, was CBP’s Withhold Release Orders (WROs) which addressed the alleged Xinjiang cotton made by forced labor. This policy is up to debate about how effective the release order is. Understanding how it affects every sector (the brand, the sourcing strategy implemented, the consumer, and the product) is something every decision and policy implemented should be aware of before going ahead with the policy.
    (Submission Issue)

  7. FASH455 allowed me to learn so much about so many different things. It brought issues of human rights to the forefront, it familiarized me with topics like globalization, and it opened my eyes immensely to sourcing when it comes to textile and apparel. Evidently, I wasn’t knowledgeable of all that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to production and trade but now I am. I feel more confident in my abilities to utilize my knowledge, discuss it, and apply it to the work force.

  8. FASH455 really helped me learn about the Textile and Apparel as a global sector, Theory of international trade and development, US/ Asia/ European textile and apparel industry and sourcing strategy. From all of the learning sectors in this semester, I really like to know about the sourcing strategies and all issues might happen in supply chain. I once had an internship in a supply chain team, but this time I know more and deeper about supply chain and sourcing strategy. This lesson has given me a lot of inspiration and I am also thinking to work in brands/retailers’ supply team in the future. I think it will be a good opportunity to apply what I have learned from FASH455 to future work.

  9. FASH455 has opened my eyes in a new way to just how complex the fashion industry is on every level! In the future, I hope to work in public relations and possibly fashion public relations. Understanding different trade theories, global issues of trade and sourcing, and different T&A supply chains worldwide only help me understand just how much goes on in the fashion industry and succeed in my career. I have a strong interest in fashion sustainability and social justice and talking about the key issues of the social and economic impacts of the apparel sector was very interesting to learn. It is so important for apparel sourcing and trade to become more sustainable, socially responsible, and transparent. More companies need to understand the impact they have on the environment and make changes to help. I am excited to see the changes that will occur in the next five years that I am hopeful with be positive.

  10. Before taking FASH455, I had little knowledge of global aspects from the fashion industry. This course has provided me with deep and enriched understandings of supply chains, sourcing strategies, social responsibility, sustainability efforts, economic and business attributes to trading partnerships, and much more. As a Public Relations Communication major with minors in Fashion Management and Advertising, I feel this course has blended well with my other studies to provide a well rounded insight into the fashion industry. Post graduation, I hope to start a career with marketing and public relations fields within the fashion industry. This class has given me the confidence to understand aspects including sourcing, supply chain efforts, sustainability, social responsibility and more to pursue a career within a related field.

  11. FASH455 is one of the most important courses I have taken during my 4 years at UD. Understanding textile and apparel trade as a global sector is a critical part of the fashion industry. This course has been especially interesting to me because I got the chance to further expand my knowledge on current day issues, and apply my understanding to my own daily life. For example, in this course we have talked about COVID-19 and the effects it has on the fashion industry. It was fascinating to see how much COVID shifted apparel sourcing and trade, and subsequently the industry is still recovering. In addition, with the holiday season approaching we have also learned about the impacts of the shipping crisis and shortages that are currently occurring. With this knowledge, I was able to have a conversation with my friends regarding delays and out of stock items due to shortages and high demand, and educate them with the information I learned from this course. I now have a better understanding of global textile and apparel trade and sourcing that I didn’t have before. The information I learned from this course will continue to help me in the near future.

    1. very happy to learn this! Just want to add that fashion companies are hiring more talents in trade and sourcing, because of its growing importance! I do hope many of our students can pursue a career in this area.

    2. great to learn this! One of the best decisions I’ve made is to make FASH455 a general education course so that I have the chance to work with our talented UD students across the campus!

  12. FASH 455 has helped me gain more understanding of the fashion industry and the supply chain. Making a garment comes with its’ complications. On the care labels of our apparel, they may state that it was designed in one country and made in another county but in actuality, the garment was created from materials that come from around the world. Cutting trades with other countries can be a negative or a positive idea. When a country cuts trade with a county it affects the economy and the relationships within the two countries. There are many things that go on behind the stores, fashion shows, and the fashion runway that consumers are not truly aware of.

  13. FASH 455 has allowed me to dive deeper into the inter-workings of the fashion and apparel industry. Learning about globalization, different trade policies, safe and unsafe working conditions and job opportunities has opened my eyes as to what really goes on behind the clothing items we purchase in stores. I have found the T&A trading process to be complex, as there are many steps, countries and people who impact the life cycle of each singular garment. After taking FASH 455 and becoming more knowledgable on the T&A global industry I have realized how much progress can be made within this industry. Whether it be finding more sustainable ways to trade or assuring safe working conditions for workers in underdeveloped countries, this industry can continue to grow and improve. Before this class, I had very little knowledge about the specifics of T&A trade. Knowing more now, I am inspired to help be the change within the industry, and pass on my knowledge to others.

  14. FASH455 opened my eyes to the complexity of the global supply chain and taught me how important globalization is within everyday life. When I first entered this class, I had no interest in learning about trade policy and the T&A industry but my mind quickly changed once I learned how one small part of the supply chain could mess up everything else. I am now aware of current issues and trade policies that affect the T&A imports and exports throughout the world. As a young entrepreneur with a fashion minor, I can confidently say that I value this class the most out of all the other fashion classes I have taken. Im glad I had the opportunity to learn more about the business side of the T&A industry since I am trying to enter that field after college.

  15. There are various takeaways from FASH455 and information that I was not aware of prior to taking the class. I think an important aspect that the class emphasizes is where our clothes come from. As students, and more importantly consumers, we are usually unaware of where the products we are purchasing actually are manufactured from. I learned from this class that the clothing we wear comes from up to 150 different countries that are made through a complicated global supply chain along with strategic sourcing. In addition to this, another main point I learned from FASH455 is the importance of trade. We would not have the same apparel industry if it was not for trade and globalization. Fashion apparel trade is heavily regulated by trade policy and there are many opinions and viewpoints regarding different rules of trade policies. For example, a topic of debate is that some tariffs have a larger impact on women’s clothing compared to mens which is very controversial. Last but not least, a topic that was essential to class was forced labor and why it is such an issue. Overall, I am not only informed on supply chains, sourcing, and globalization, but also the fashion industry as a whole.

  16. I really enjoyed taking this class! As a fashion major, the global supply chain has been touched on in classes but has never fully been delved into. Whether you want to find a career in global trade or not, global trade is at the base of all jobs in the fashion industry. We are all wearing clothes, so we are all participating in this global supply chain. In addition to global trade theories, learning about trade agreements really opened my eyes to how much goes into how our clothes get to us. In particular, how global trade isn’t black and white. It’s not just about how much it costs or how quick it can get there. Global trade is heavily rooted in politics and global systems. These systems affect every trade deal and every supply chain. Additionally, I thought it was extremely beneficial to take this class from a real industry professional who has a voice in these conversations. Being able to read studies and research done by my professor was pretty cool! I feel like we got up to date and insider info, which makes the class all the more valuable. Overall, I think that FASH455 will set me up with a great toolbox for how to navigate conversations about global trade and supply chains, whether that is in my future career or just my daily life as a consumer.

  17. I would like to start off by saying I really enjoyed this class and everything you taught us throughout the semester. The reason I chose to major in fashion merchandising is because of sustainability and finding alternative ways to make the fashion industry less polluting, and more worker friendly especially in places like third world countries. I feel like this class furthered my knowledge about different sectors within the fashion industry like the apparel sector and the textile sector and how these different sectors provide jobs for different countries based on what their good in like technology or labor. I really learned how countries work together in order to supply our consumers with products they want and need and how complex some supply chains are in order to get the best quality at the best price for their market. Overall, I can go on and on about what I learned in this class but what I am most excited for is taking this knowledge into the real world and apply it to whatever job I get in the fashion industry.

  18. FASH455 helped me gain a better understanding of sourcing, trade, and the supply chain in general. before taking this course, I was not very aware of how important trade and the supply chain are to global issues. The world heavily relies on globalization and the ease of international trade to keep up with consumer demand. Issues with trade policy can have big impacts on entire countries’ economies and what materials they have access to. Trade restrictions are also used as a retaliation tool for some countries in response to other countries’ actions. I was most interested in globalization and how it requires balance. On one hand, international trade gives the whole world access to resources that they can’t produce domestically. On the other hand, too much globalization can eradicate small domestic markets and create rapid demand that suppliers can’t keep up with. Overall, I really enjoyed this course and I am looking forward to applying the information I learned in a work setting!

  19. Not only has FASH455 been one of my favorite courses throughout my 4 years at UD as a fashion major but I truly believe it’s been the most important and eye-opening course I’ve taken in relation to the fashion industry. FASH 455 has taught us to look beyond what we think we know about the industry and dive deeper into the logistics of how the entire supply chain functions and interconnects worldwide. The topics we have learned and understanding globalization, trade & policies, tariffs, supply chains, rules of origin, and many more are critical knowledge we need in order to make difficult decisions, overcome challenges, and make action plans once we enter the industry. We truly are the future and I’m most interested to see how automation intelligence and digital technologies will change the future of apparel sourcing, trade, and job opportunities. We already see with Amazon how data science has allowed the company to rise to the top due to its important role within Amazon’s strategies and logistics in order to readily provide for the consumers. I think in 10 years fashion education will incorporate courses focused more on data and consumer analytics as it is increasingly becoming a main strategy fashion brands use to provide for their consumers. I’m interested to see what the future holds and excited to take the knowledge and information I’ve learned within this course into the real world within the fashion industry!

  20. Thank you for a great semester and i really enjoyed you class this year. What I took away from this classic a better understand of supply chain and supply chain developments in America, Asia and Europe. Hopefully I can own my own fashion company one day and this gives me the basic knowledge of different information when looking to source a product for production. This class also helped me gain a better knowledge of trade agreement within the US, Asia and Europe. This class helped me also understand the different apparel supply chain production models like countries that produce higher capital products and the the flying geese model that is used for Asian supply chain. I really enjoyed the topics that we learned and how relevant the information is. In most class it is the same test book but in this class it is constantly new information that is useful that is being present. Also like how this class help develop critical thinking of problems in the fashion industry.

  21. I went into FASH455 not really knowing much about the class and thinking it wouldn’t be something I’m really interested in. It turned out to be one of my favorite classes ive taken at UD. I will be leaving this class with so much knowledge that will help me in my career. This class has completely opened my eyes to a whole new part of the fashion industry that, up until this class, I have overlooked. I learned how much sourcing not only effects the fashion industry but impacts almost everything. I found it super interesting to learn about the effects COVID has had on sourcing and how it will continue to impact it for years. I never realized how much we trade and source across the globe. I loved learning about this because it creates a connection in the world that I never knew about. Thank you so much for an amazing semester!

  22. I’m so glad that I made the right decision to take this class with Professor Sheng Lu. Honestly, I didn’t think much and have little knowledge about the global fashion industry. It was my first time knowing that the US is the second largest producer and exporter of cotton in the world. Or I didn’t even notice the clothes we wear everyday is the part of this global apperal and textiles supply chain. I earned pretty much knowledge about the supply chain in fashion industry, the trade agreements, tariffs, labor force, sourcing strategies, etc. This class has reshaped my global mindset about the fashion industry concepts. Besides that, Professor Lu makes the class more interesting and not boring with his funny humor. Thank you for this amazing class!

  23. Throughout the semester, FASH455 has given me a deeper understanding of the fashion industry as a whole. Specifically, the class discussed how the supply chain functions through trading and sourcing worldwide. Prior to this class, I barely knew anything about the global T&A industries and the concept was never really discussed in my other fashion classes. Now I am aware of the steps it takes for clothing to get to consumers. The global textile and apparel industry is extremely complex and there is not always a clear solution to their problems. There are other countries, economics, and politics that come together to create the global trade sector. But this is not without its faults of changing trade deals, tariff wars, or alleged forced labor. Overall, I believe that this class has taught me so much about the textile & apparel industry and the effect it has on the world. This class has also inspired me to expand my knowledge on current issues in the industry and stay informed.

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