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The Biggest Challenges in The Apparel Industry (Part 1)

“Navigating the ever-changing challenges in the apparel industry is essential. Read on to learn about just a couple of these challenges and how you can avoid them.”

Fashion and apparel change from year to year as consumers grow and change in their tastes and proclivities. It’s not just their fashion choices, either; premium brands need to contend with everything from brand image to sustainability to criticism of their manufacturing processes. In a world where the public is increasingly concerned with the eco-friendliness of fabrics and manufacturing ethics, it’s no wonder that the entire industry is facing challenges. This two-part series will discuss several of these significant challenges and how luxury apparel brands may navigate them.

Challenge 1: Ethical Production

The biggest challenge that apparel companies face today is production methods that are deemed unethical or immoral. As a result, these brands need to find ways to manufacture their apparel for a low cost, but the lowest costs – found in countries like China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh – come with another price.

Taking advantage of underpaid labor in developing economies has long been a trend in manufacturing across the board, but consumer awareness is growing about the issues these processes create. Lax regulations, poor compensation, environmental degradation, and unhealthy working conditions are all part and parcel of this manner of outsourcing.

Modern apparel companies can gain a tremendous competitive advantage by switching to sustainable, ethical production, but it may require a significant shift in both logistics and budgets.

Challenge 2: Changing Tastes

Two pressures are leading to the same point of friction for apparel brands. The first is the relentless march of time as customers age, some age into enjoying a particular kind of fashion, while others age out of it. This cycle, combined with the ongoing push and pull of changing trends, means a given brand or style may fade in and out of fashion with minimal ways of predicting it.

Add to this the “fast fashion” cycle, where fashion styles and collections cycle as rapidly as once a week in some areas, and apparel brands face a problematic situation. Do they focus on longevity and weather the ups and downs, or do they adjust and produce new styles to capitalize, with all of the additional investment (and potential waste) that entails? It’s a thin line that apparel companies have to tread to ensure they are making money and keeping up with the modern concerns of the public. 

Additional Challenges

Stay tuned for the second part of this series, where we discuss additional challenges the apparel industry faces in 2021 and beyond.

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