The Global Fashion Industry Affects Society

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The global fashion industry affects almost everyone, from factory workers to the consumers. And with the increasing number of garments being produced as part of ‘fast fashion’ the more unsustainable this process can become. “The phrase ‘fast fashion’ refers to low-cost clothing collections that mimic current luxury fashion trends” (Joy et al, 2012, pg 274). ‘Fast fashion’ is considered to be an unsustainable way to produce clothing as it encourages a short lifecycle for the garment; with companies renewing the clothes in their stores regularly. Thus, providing the consumers with ever more opportunities to purchase the latest trend for the cheapest price.

This gives people in the developed world a cheap alternative to keep up
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These countries often become highly dependent on a few traded products which makes their economy very vulnerable and unstable to global fluctuations in trade and commerce.

The value of the top 10 exports of clothing in 2016 (US$), is shown in the graph 1. The data indicates that China (in the Global South) is the highest exporter of clothing in 2016 with 161.4 million US$. Whereas the USA (in the Global North) is the lowest exporter of clothing with 5.7 million US$. This demonstrates the great divide between countries of the Global North and South. The EU is ranked second with 117 million US$, though this relates to exports to other EU countries and the extra-EU accounts for exports to countries outside the EU. This data indicates that many companies are using countries where it is cheaper to produce clothes. Though it is apparent that there is a shift and more garments are being produced within the EU for the EU.

Graph 1 - Top 10 exports of clothing in 2016 (US$)


Graph 2 - Top 10 imports of clothing in 2016 (US$)


Graph 2 demonstrates the top 10 importers of clothing in 2016. The highest importer is the EU with 175.1 million US$ and this only includes the imports from other countries in the EU. The second largest importer is Extra-EU with 95.3 million US$, (from countries outside of the EU).
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