Is the Fashion Industry Really That Competitive?


The fashion industry is known as an extremely competitive industry. It has grown tremendously over the years; around 1980 a rough amount of 34 million people were employed, today it has increased to approximately 80 million. The size of fashion crowd eager to work in the business has grown as well, as the amount of fashion schools popping up world wide. This as a result of fast-fashion making the term ‘fashion’ accessible for everyone, but also had the industry face serious trouble and changed the definition of what we used to perceive as competition. I spoke to three professionals  about their insights, experiences and the future of competitiveness.


Article by second year International Fashion & Branding student Zoë Akihary.


Special thanks to Annemieke van Beek (Co-creative partner Mart Visser), Leslie Holden (Head department of Design/MAFEC) and Jo Watson (Coordinator Denim minor and Brands & Identity)


Although fast fashion isn’t exactly the oldest term, it certainly has had the greatest impact, causing fashion to become the second most polluting industry of the world. We currently live in the content generation in which social media has increased everyone’s appetite for fashion and newness. One single ‘refresh’ button exposes us to an overload of new information and products. From the temptation of over-consuming, big retailers such as Zara now release new products every two weeks, by doing so, the retailer builds a certain hype and excitement surrounding ‘popular’ items that seem likely to disappear. Fashion is easily and quickly copied nowadays. This change of pace in production and competition has brought problems such as damage to the environment, loss of value, fashion waste and unethical behaviour.


These problems change how we see competition to work of solving these industry problems together. This generation is much more open about sharing, sourcing and working together, because there is an increasing amount of willingness of improvement. It’s a different culture in which we’re more keen to share and give information instead of being competitive individually. New methods, such as pre-competitive collaboration, are introduced. This basically means brands collaborating together to source out the right and sustainable materials in order to improve the sustainable era of the industry. Brands slowly realise they won’t be able to improve the pollutive industry on their own to make a real difference. There is no point in everybody developing their own individual materials when it’s harmful for the environment. We should invest in good, sustainable -production and materials and share those with each other strategically.


The key is to keep the consumer always in mind even as, the brand, brings their own values to the fore. We should continue to design clothes that epitomise great design and use high-quality materials, but now do think twice before ignoring issues of environmental responsibility and ethical production standards. Consumer’s expectations of fashion are changing and so must the industry’s. Adapting will be a challenge, a daunting and overwhelming one, but the brand that puts his or her values first, and the bottom line second, will stand out from the crowd.


So to conclude the fashion industry has now moved to a new era of competitiveness, one in which this generation is taking responsibility for the problems that had been caused recently, and is much more transparent. There is more industry, more job opportunities, but also a broader group being eager to take part in this industry and therefore improving it. Getting noticed and finding a job is the same challenge as back in the day, it will always depend on your own strengths, ambition and preferences. The fashion industry is just as competitive on the job market just like any other industry.


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