Fashion Careers Outlook
In the face of foreign competition, the future of the apparel industry is unclear. Imports from foreign countries have deeply affected the U.S. apparel industry. Foreign imports have taken increasingly larger shares of such important markets as blouses, coats, shirts, and sweaters. As a result, employment in U.S. plants has declined. The related field of textile manufacturing has also seen significant declines. According to the National Council of Textile Organizations, 365,400 textile-manufacturing jobs were lost from June 2001 to June 2006. This represents a decline of 37 percent.
In 2004, the apparel industry provided approximately 285,000 wage and salary jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, wage and salary employment in the apparel industry is expected to decline 46 percent through 2014— greater than the decrease for nearly any other industry. Declining employment will be caused by growing imports and competition from foreign markets, new technology, and cost-cutting practices imposed by retailers.
The apparel industry is highly competitive, and low profits and wages are characteristic. There are approximately 14,000 establishments in all 50 states and most jobs are with large firms: More than 58 percent of all U.S. apparel industry workers are employed at companies of 100 workers or more.
Many U.S. firms will continue to move their assembly operations to low-wage countries, which will adversely affect employment for lower-skilled machine operators. However, much of the apparel will still be designed and cut in the United States, which will maintain the demand for some pre-sewing functions.
Technological changes continue to affect the fashion manufacturing process. Many apparel manufacturers now use computer systems to design products, make patterns, and present their products to buyers. Many of the operations at apparel factories are difficult to automate, however, because of the large variety of fabrics and the intricate cutting and sewing required of most fashions, so the fashion industry is likely to remain labor-intensive.
Quick Response is a new production concept that uses computers and allows manufacturers to quickly produce and deliver products in high demand and avoid producing clothing that does not sell well. The system relies on automated checkouts with bar-code scanners to track inventory, identify strong sellers, and know when to replenish stock, thereby cutting lead time in the order and delivery of goods.
The fastest job growth in retail trade is projected for apparel and accessory stores. Pressing machine operators, custom tailors, and workers whose skills can be used in retail clothing stores, laundries, and dry cleaners will have the best opportunities. Workers who have knowledge of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing will have the best employment prospects.
Careers in Fashion:
- Apparel Industry Workers
- Costume Designers
- Fashion Coordinators
- Fashion Designers
- Fashion Illustrators and Photographers
- Fashion Models’ Agents
- Jewelers and Jewelry Repairers
- Knit Goods Industry Workers
- Makeup Artists
- Nail Technicians
- Photo Stylists
- Shoe Industry Workers
- Tailors and Dressmakers
- Textile Manufacturing Workers
- Textile Technicians
Related Career Field:
For More Information:
- American Apparel and Footwear Association
- Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design
- National Council of Textile Organizations
- Women’s Wear Daily