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 trade & sourcing from FASH455. As you may recall from the video, in FASH455:
- We examined the phenomenon of globalization and the debate regarding its profound social, economic, and political implications.
- We discussed various trade theories and the general evolution pattern of a country’s textile and apparel industry and its close relationship with that country’s overall industrialization process.
- We further explored three primary textile and apparel supply chains in the world (namely the Western-Hemisphere supply chain, the flying geese model in Asia, and the phenomenon of intra-region textile and apparel trade in Europe).
- Last but not least, we looked at unique and critical trade policies that matter significantly to the textile and apparel sector (e.g., the U.S.-China tariff war and the yarn-forward rules of origin) as well as the complicated factors behind the making of these trade policies.
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 fashion apparel 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 textile and apparel industry, from the impact of COVID-19 on apparel sourcing and trade, the growing interest in expanding near-shoring from the Western Hemisphere, the debate on the textile and apparel provisions in U.S. free trade agreements 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.
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 class, over 120 million people remain directly employed in the textile and apparel industry globally, and a good proportion of them are females living in poor rural areas. For most developing countries, textile and apparel typically account for 70%–90% of their total merchandise exports and provide one of the very few opportunities for these countries to participate in globalization. The global pandemic, in particular, reveals the fashion industry’s enormous social and economic impacts and many problems that need our continuous efforts to make meaningful improvements.
Last but not least, I hope from taking FASH455, students will take away meaningful questions that can inspire their future studies and even life’s pursuit. For example:
- 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?
- To which extent will geopolitics, such as the Russia-Ukraine war and US-China tensions, affect world trade patterns and fundamentally shift fashion companies’ sourcing and supply chain strategies?
- 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?
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 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