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The Fashion industry is a multibillion dollar industry that operates on the business of dealing and sale of clothes, be it designer or not. In the early 1970’s, fashion was differentiated into the “apparel fashion” that symbolizes mass fashion or the sale of ordinary clothes, and the “fashion industry” that dealt with the sale of high class clothes. But this was scrapped off as it symbolized discrimination of class.
But what is fashion? Fashion simply is the distinctive way y of dressing at a particular time by particular people, in most cases being masculine and feminine, in other cases, androgyny.
As any other industry, fashion also undergoes several levels and processes for full customer satisfaction and mass sale. The levels include; the production of raw materials inclusive of fur, fibres(it being the principle material), leather etc.; production of the fashion commodity by the manufacturers and designers; sale of the clothes to the retail community and lastly, the promotion techniques by the advertisers and the marketers. The sectors involved, them being separate or interdependent, are able to largely operate on the gross profits from the different levels of processes.
Fashion being no different from life itself, it has to undergo some growth some time, be it financial or physical development. Fashion has come a long way, from the ancestral cultural background to the more current and urban styles that majorly incorporate different tastes and designs, not forgetting the major players and designers in the game right now.
In a country like Kenya, back in the 1900’s, weaving, spinning and knitting was popular amongst our ancestors. This clearly shows that Kenya has a rich history in cultural textile industry. The fashion industry has majorly evolved from the hides and skins made by our grandmothers to more widely renowned fashion brands such as the Mccensal, owned and directed by Sally Karago. But in Kenya, where designs were compliant to what the tailors in the estate made, most designers faced major challenges in growth and development due to the stiff competition that most tailors brought, not forgetting the level of differentiation in the brands that they had to make distinct and unique. Back in the day, Anne McReath ,founder and owner of the renown KikoRomeo known as “Adams Apple’’ in Kiswahili, started her shop in the 90’s , since then, most designers have been able to come up and step out to create designs to be sold in the market.
For one to clearly understand the backbone of the fashion industry, one has to look into the key sectors of the industry. There are 4 sectors in the industry; production and textile design; Fashion design and manufacturing; Fashion retail, marketing and advertisements and Fashion shows.
In the first sector, due to the major automation of most processes, the weaving and spinning processes that used to be hand-made are now computer-controlled by machinery that has high speed and efficiency. Some fibres that are produced in this sector include; naturalfibres (wool, silk) polyesters and artificial/synthetic fibres that include (acrylic, nylon).
In the second sector, designers work in anonymity and draw inspiration from various sources such as active and street styles or televisions to create various designs for the apparel market. Also, due to computerization, the traditional design of table design and sketches on fabric and paper and clothing mannequins is now a thing of the past. This allows designers recuperate any mistakes and redraft within a short time.
The fashion retail sector deals with the designs that have been manufactured. The manufacturer sells the clothes to retails and will be able to purchase in-store designs within 6 months. Marketing manages the flow of commodity from designs produced to how it’s presented to the retail community. The main aim is to maximize the profits and sale for the company. For the fashion marketing to be successful, it entirely depends on the understanding of the market and customers desires and methods of responding with the products.
In the last sector, most manufacturers and designers are able to advertise their designs to both the media personnel and retail buyers. Fashion models in this case are able to flaunt numerous designs that will attract either local or international buyers. Some of the world renowned designers are Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret among others.
In Kenya, the industry has inundated some of the most talented designers to have braced the runways around the world and even in the country. In the early 2000’s, the modeling industry was put to spotlight when the Ajuma Nasenyana graced the international media for her bespoken beauty and talent. After that, the modeling industry is now like any other career as it pays and sustains bills for the models.
The stylists and fashion magazines then came up around that time because the industry had been able to establish itself and thus able to produce content to fill a magazine, the true magazine. That is when the Emmanuel Jambo and Carol Odero were able to gain fame and were featured in the magazines.
In recent times, the idea of a career on photography or stylists was unheard of as they were considered minor careers. But because of the introduction of the fashion magazines, such carrers can now pay bills and sustain lives.
Another flare-up in the industry is the introduction of blogging sites that was surely was unheard of in the past decades. Due to the computerization in the country, most writers who were passionate about fashion and design have been able to display their ideas to the others and may even attract international attention.
The fashion industry goes hand in hand with the entertainment industry and an example of this is when the celebrities and the general media personnel who display fashion trends. This is where the Red Carpets events come in. The celebrities usually attend this events and display their flamboyant styles and the current trends from different well known designers.
From this cited examples, we see how the industry has been modernized and is widely accepted by different users and the benefits it brings from adaptation of the current trends.