NYFW, The Fashion Industry is all about Economy

Yolanda Regodón. Associate Director of Communications. IE Business School

31 March 2014

New York Fashion Week shows how collaboration between key players in fashion and politics can generate excellent results.

Employment, tourism and glamour. This is what the fashion industry brings not only to New York, but to a host of other cities like Paris, Milan, Madrid, or London, as well as the countries in which they are located. Designer Diane Von Furstenberg said as much to New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, when she met him last week for the first time, on his first official encounter with the world of fashion at the Council of Fashion Designers of America event chaired by Ms von Furstenberg.

So politics met fashion in the lead-up to New York Fashion Week. Could it be that Mr. De Blasio is already aware of how much the sector generates? Do politicians know how important the fashion industry is for a country’s economy? The potential for creativity and the energy that the fashion sector generates can be translated into tangible figures, and in image and reputation.

In Europe there are over 850,000 companies in the fashion industry, which employ more than 5 million people and make up 3% of the EU’s GDP. Moreover, high-range products comprise 10% of EU exports and directly provide a million jobs. The European Union aims to have a fashion and luxury product sector which contributes 20% of GDP by 2020.

An overly ambitious and long-term plan. Long-term competitiveness in the fashion sector is undoubtedly important for overall economic recovery. It generates massive amounts of innovation, creativity and quality.

The Vice President of the European Commission said that it would be impossible to compete in terms of quantity with the US, China, Russia or Brazil, but that in Europe we can compete in terms of quality, and that is why we have to support the most important industry in terms of quality, namely fashion.  

Less is more is heard more with each passing day. What we have to do now is to disseminate the quality of our products further and more effectively. Now, more than ever before, politicians, designers and artists are singing the praises of Made in NY, Made in Madrid, Made in Milán, and Made in Paris, aware of what they are worth. Although the repercussions affect the entire country, the focus is always on key cities and their respective fashion weeks. February and September are two months of frantic activity for the sector. They are the opportunity to showcase the best they have to the media and buyers.

What began in 1993 in New York, led by Fern Mallis, as a modern and centralized platform where US designers could sell their products, is today a business that moves many millions of dollars. Online sales have stretched the event’s reach still further.

In New York, for example, a new platform has emerged that offers innovative options such as virtual fashion parades. The aim is to reach clients as effectively as possible. It is essential to strengthen links between politicians/mayors of fashion-centric cities and businesses, to bring multiple mutual benefits. The sector has to keep doing business, generating jobs, attracting tourists to cities, and continue to seduce with the glamour of premium and luxury products.

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