Major Changes in the Fashion Industry

Major Changes in the Fashion Industry

Major Changes in the Fashion Industry


The fashion industry has witnessed numerous changes that have determined the products available to customers at different times. This study highlights the trends that have shaped the industry’s current state and its future. The industry developed from home-based cloth designing in which people knit clothing for personal use. The status led to the emergence of networks of neighborhood tailors that formed manufacturing businesses producing many clothes. Technological advancements promoted mass production and boosted the globalization of the industry since fashion companies were able to meet global demand for their products. Technological advancements have also shaped marketing in the industry as its players have shifted from selling in stores to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter among other online systems. In addition, many fashion houses are collaborating with celebrities to make their products popular.

Table of Contents

Summary. 2

Introduction. 4

The Major Changes in the Fashion Industry. 5

Conclusion. 10

References. 11

Major Changes in the Fashion Industry


The fashion industry has significantly changed in the last three centuries. The changes have been influenced by the designers, tailors, factory workers, technically skilled embroiderers, and seamstresses among many others. The industry’s shifting dynamics have led to the decline in mass production, rise in the number of fashion seasons, and changing structural traits of the supply chain. Consequently, retailers had to adopt low cost and flexible strategies in design, speed, quality, and delivery to market. Moreover, investments in marketing and capital have been identified as the major influencers of competitiveness in the industry. The industry players that adopt change strategies often remain profitable position in the progressively dynamic and demanding market. Therefore, the study identifies some of the major changes in the industry to provide a clear picture of its evolution.

The Major Changes in the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry began as a home industry that was commercialized to become a global industry. Previously, people knit clothes for personal use (Apparel Search Company, 2019). However, as the world changed, the industry was established to meet the demands of consumers. In the mid-nineteenth century, there was mass production of clothing since companies began to produce clothing that did not require consumers to undergo a fitting session with the tailors or sewers. Nevertheless, the fashion sector did not become an established industry until the twentieth century when groups of neighborhood tailors informally formed manufacturing businesses. Subsequently, factories emerged from necessity in the course of the world wars. The resultant social and cultural changes during these periods denoted the beginning of less restrictive and unilateral dress codes. Changes in the fashion business and the emergence of designers as mediators of taste began at the beginning of the century, with the European fashion houses leading in this development. During the 1950s and 1960s, there was an increase in the number of entrepreneurial designers featuring their names on the labels (Apparel Search Company, 2019). However, in the 1980s, several fashion designers such as Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, and Halston emerged. Therefore, the fashion industry started with personal consumption and extended to become a commercialized international business.

The fashion industry has witnessed extensive changes due to globalization, which has opened a new market for clothing with a huge demand for fashionable and trendy clothes. Before globalization, the production of fashion was transmitted vertically from the upper economic classes to the lower ones. Fashion was valued due to its craftsmanship and quality, and most high-quality clothing had a high price tag (Ledezma, 2017). Companies specializing in the development of best-design clothing and accessories were at the center of the fashion industry. Early in the 19th-century, Charles Frederick Worth invented the concept of the fashion house in Paris (Ledezma, 2017). The first fashion houses designed clothes for the powerful and rich members of the upper class. However, the lower classes copied the designs thereafter. Fashion houses produced expensive clothes since they were made of materials of highest-quality and were made by expert sewers. In addition, clothes were custom made to perfectly fit the clients. The fashion at the time was known as “haute couture” and fashion houses made two clothing collections every year, one for spring or summer and the other for fall or winter. These products were displayed at fashion shows in affluent cities such as New York, Paris, and London (Ledezma, 2017). Therefore, commercial fashion started in the early nineteenth century when clothes were made for summer and winter.

The mixing of classes led to mixed fashion in the 20th century. Fashion houses conformed to these changes and developed ready-to-wear lines. Just like haute couture, ready-to-wear collections emerged twice a year to customers. Nevertheless, the clothing was sold in a finished state, standardized sizes, and in large quantities. In addition, they were with the highest quality materials but still very expensive, though not as much as the haute couture ones. The appeal of fashion and trendy clothes spread beyond just the upper class from the beginning of the 1900s (Ledezma, 2017). Moreover, there were more stores selling ready-to-wear clothes to the lower classes. The trend amplified rapidly during the 20th century, particularly in the 1980s because of increased globalization. Customers were introduced to multinational corporations, electronic mass media, and cyber technology that opened new markets for fashion industry players while customers accessed trendier clothes at lower prices. Thus, the 20th century led to changes in fashion as lower and higher class individuals could purchase depending on their affordability.  

The beginning of the 20th century recorded the emergence of technology that led to mass production such as the sewing machine. There was also the creation of retail outlets that include department stores and the growth of global capitalism were witnessed (Steele & Major, 2019). Other developments included the emergence of the factory system of production that allowed companies to produce much more. Other developments included standard sizes of clothing and fixed prices (Steele & Major, 2019). The changes started in Europe and America but they have become common across the world. Thus, the industry changed dramatically in the 20th century with the emergence of large companies that could produce standard clothes at fixed prices.

Technological advancement contributed to the continuous evolution of the fashion industry. For instance, some of the players and consumers in the industry shifted from traditional retail trading and shopping to e-commerce (Shamir, 2018). In fact, virtual technology, data analytics, and artificial intelligence have streamlined processes in the fashion industry. Other developments include the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), mobile commerce, and virtual or augmented reality (VR) (Shamir, 2018). IoT has allowed people around the world to purchase fashion items. In addition, manufacturers are willing to use the technology to improve customers’ experiences. Thus, technological developments have allowed firms to improve customer experiences and made it easier to access fashion items.

AI platforms such as social media have relieved fashion businesses the burden of manually gathering data. It allows them to gather, organize, analyze, and categorize data from the various platforms. They can then use the data to predict what their clients are looking for and produce them accordingly. The effectiveness of AI in the fashion industry is demonstrated by Screenshop, an app that uses image recognition to make fashion easier (Shamir, 2018). Individuals using this app simply take a photo or screenshot of an item they like and use it to search for similar products. Fashion manufacturers have adopted various technologies to avail their products to consumers across the world.

 Mobile commerce through social media, communication, and digital wallet apps has globalized the fashion industry. Mobile technology has made it possible for people to shop online and have easy payment experiences by using digital wallet options such as Android Pay and ApplePay. In fact, two out of three millennials favor shopping online rather than going to a physical store (Shamir, 2018). In addition, online platforms such as DressingRoom now enable shoppers to try outfits customized to their right measurements before buying them (Shamir, 2018). These platforms give more value to retailers since they are likely to get everything they desire. Personalized experiences encourage many retailers to be regular customers to certain firms regardless of their social status. Therefore, applications have allowed retailers to fit fashion items and purchase the products instantly.   

The fashion industry also witnessed a shift from mass production. Before the mid-1980s, companies in the fashion industry utilized low-cost mass production with standardized features (Bhardwaj & Fairhurst, 2010). Changes in these styles were rare because of the design restrictions of the companies. At the time, consumers were less sensitive to style and fashion and favored basic clothing. However, soon thereafter, there was a sudden increase in the import of fashion-oriented clothing for women. The situation led to a decline in the demand for classic simple clothing as consumers began to be more fashion-conscious. For example, the women’s legwear industry introduced basic hosiery of different colors and textures to synchronize with any outfit (Bhardwaj & Fairhurst, 2010). The development of fashion-oriented apparel led to a rise in mark-downs necessitated by the failure to sell fashion clothing during the anticipated season. Therefore, mass production of fashion apparels was not the best approach to realize profits in the fashion industry.

Some of the most recent changes in the industry revolve around how design houses and their customers interact. The industry has seen numerous creative director changes, the domination of fashion bloggers, and the rise of social media (Kakcho, 2019). Many famous fashion houses such as Chanel have adopted social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, SnapChat, Twitter, and Instagram as a way to reach more customers. These platforms have enabled the houses to interact directly with customers, which has made fashion more accessible to different groups of people. Similarly, fashion blogging has become a common occurrence with bloggers covering different aspects of fashion (Kakcho, 2019). They do not focus solely on trends in fashion but on the current season’s must-haves. Athleisure is also a change in the industry involving the emergence of sports clothing. Celebrities such as Gigi Hadid, Gwen Stefani, and Kendall Jenner are known for combining sporty elements with high fashion (Kakcho, 2019). These individuals have a huge following of young fans and have successfully promoted athletic houses such as Nike. Therefore, the increased use of social media platforms and increased number of lifestyle bloggers has increased the sale of fashion elements.  

The growing competition in their industry has led to numerous designer collaborations. In the recent past, different clothing and big-box retailers have collaborated with some of the most sought-after designers in the fashion industry (Kakcho, 2019). For example, in 2004, H&M collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld, a fashion icon. Later, the company collaborated with Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolf. After these initial collaborations, numerous designers and chains have entered into similar partnerships. For instance, Target collaborated with Lilly Pulitzer, Missoni, and Prabal Gurung. Collaborations among designers have made high fashion available to many people across the world. Therefore, firms are using collaborations with influential individuals to remain competitive.    

The industry has displayed constant adaptation to the changes in customer taste and to the various aspects affecting its operations. Its components have persistently adapted to the changes of fashion and prevailing consumer demands (Wilson, 2019). Designers have produced different styles such as celebrity-endorsed streetwear, casual and formal designs, and American sportswear. The production of these designs has been influenced by market trends. For instance, over the years, crinoline makers have manufactured bras, suit manufacturers have adapted to the emergence of separates, and textile mills have shifted to stretch items. In addition, the industry has adopted classifications of pricing and style to enhance its basic operations of designing and selling garments along the traditional separating line of wholesale and retail.   


The fashion industry has witnessed numerous changes in the last for centuries. The industry emerged from homes in which people knit their clothes. However, changes around the world led to a growing demand for clothing resulting in mass production, especially in the mid-nineteenth century. It started with home-based production of clothing followed by networks of neighborhood tailors that informally transformed into manufacturing businesses. These businesses became fashion houses that produced quality and expensive designs for rich and powerful people. However, fashion houses that served low-class individuals arose, which ensured that all people could access new fashion. There was also a shift from the production of a few numbers of clothes to mass production and later to small scale production. Other changes in the industry include the use of electronic media, bloggers, and celebrities in marketing. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the trends in the industry can help me determine the future and advise my company appropriately to ensure continuous success in the market.  


Apparel Search Company (2019). Fashion industry history. Retrieved from https://www.apparelsearch.com/terms/f/fashion_industry_history.html

Bhardwaj, V. & Fairhurst, A. (2010). Fast fashion: Response to changes in the fashion industry. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 20(1), 165–173.

Kakcho (2019). How fashion industry has changed over the decade: Prominent changes in fashion industry over the decade. Retrieved from http://blog.kakcho.com/how-fashion-industry-has-changed-over-the-decade/  

Ledezma, V. (2017). Globalization and fashion: Too fast, too furious. Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts, 4(9), 71-80.

Shamir, S. (2018). How technology is changing the fashion industry. TNW. Retrieved from https://thenextweb.com/hardfork/2019/06/17/facebook-libra-cryptocurrency-bitcoin-white-paper/

Steele, V. & Major, J. S. (2019). Fashion industry. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/art/fashion-industry

Wilson, E. (2019). Evolution of the fashion industry. I Love to Know: Beauty & Fashion. Retrieved from https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/fashion-clothing-industry/evolution-fashion-industry


Information Interview

What are the major changes in the fashion industry?
The industry began from small-scale production to mass production.The industry started from individuals who made clothes for personal use and developed into companies doing international business. Advancement in technology has made it easier for designers and manufacturers to develop quality and various types of clothes in mass. There was a shift from traditional selling of clothing in stores to online shopping which allows people around the world to make orders even outside their countries.Initially, there were few companies designing and producing clothing but currently, there are many players in the industry resulting in high levels of competition.   


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