Shifting roles, same industry

I just read an article on style dispatcher about people leaving the Fashion industry. It’s not news that the industry appears to be shrinking, but I don’t believe there is a decline. I just think the industry is changing into something severely different than we are used to. Especially if you come from the garmento style companies.

I am seeing a lot less focus on products (Design, development, tech design, etc. and more on data skills (planning, operations, merch, etc). Or maybe this could be what I’m seeing on my end of the algorithm.

I’d rather not leave the terrain I’m familiar with, at least not without some transferable skills under my belt before I do leave.

Is anyone else staying in the fashion industry? If so do you have a strategy? Maybe Shifting into other departments outside of Technical fashion work (design, TD, PD) within your company? Or are you fleeing for the hills?


I have 30 years of design experience but was aged out of the business 5 years ago. I am going to relaunch my own label in time, but manufacturing is going to be very different going forward. There is a lot of talk about on-demand manufacturing, sustainable fabrics, etc. The millenials are focused on sustainability, climate, and waste management. It takes 5 tons of water to produce ONE teeshirt. The innovation is going to be in creating apparel that is aspirational, wearable, affordable and not destroy the planet in its production. Ralph Lauren has invested in a company that is repurposing cotton fiber, elongating the fibers it so that it can be woven into fabric. I believe these are the challenges facing younger designers and I see that it’s already happening.
I don’t think the traditional “garmento” approach of designing, producing and shipping to the department stores is sustainable. It already feels like the dinosaur age.
I am also seeing smaller manufacturing hubs cropping up in the Hudson New York area where groups of designers are trying to set up small, boutique-like factories. Finding sewers is proving to be challenging, but I have been calling out for robotic manufacturing for 10 years now. With the Chinese Industrial Revolution of the early 2000’s, I saw then that educated Chinese emerging from the Communist middle class were NOT going to continue sitting at sewing machines. And manufacturing MUST come back home. And with innovation, I believe that is very probable.
The pandemic ground everything to a halt and has forced an antiquated fashion system to refocus and look into the future. It is here and it is now.


Another thing I think will be interesting will be a transition to a more “Buy Now, Wear Now” mentality…, because who are we kidding- no one shops for their clothes months ahead of time. The whole timeline of fashion has been so antiquated, which resulted in huge waste of products that “miss” key selling seasons being offloaded at discounters or marked down so much, that no one made any money.

I think definitely focusing on e-com and the customer who likes to shop, in the current season, will make many companies be more flexible and able to pivot quickly.


5 TONS of water?! Where did you get that info from? lol

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Actually, I think it’s THREE tons, not 5. This was from a webinar out of the UK in which manufacturers were discussing sustainability in producing apparel. Their big topic was on-demand manufacturing as a sustainable way for production in the future. I would imagine that this amount of water is needed in the production of fiber through fabric finishing, dying and steaming of the finished product. Staggering if true.

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I actaully plan to leave the fashion industry/shift to another field in the industry. There’s a lot of experience I have and none of these apparel companies I apply to are willing to interview me or hire me.

Just seems like my own field has kind of kicked me out on the streets. Plus I was thinking about a career change before the pandemic.

It does not take “5 tons of water to produce one t-shirt.” That’s highly uninformative, please do not miseducated people. I have been manufacturing sustainably for almost 20 years, consistently reducing CO2 emissions and water consumption in the milling process, and producing custom non toxic laminates for multi billion dollar companies. Much needs to continue to change, but I assure you there is no way in which the total process of creating one t-shirt requires 5 tons of water. There are SO many variables in play in product creation, there is absolutely zero way a quantitative formula can be reached and it is bizarre and completely inaccurate to quote one. For what it’s worth I only manufacture domestically these days so I have no agenda here other than accurate education.

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Please see my reply above to Meg515.