It’s no secret that we, as a society, are far too used to instant gratification. One only has to scour the internet to find numerous articles and think-pieces on how social media, or technology in general, is leading to our ruin.
It should come as no surprise, then, that this desire for immediate results should extend to the fashion industry.
A recent article by Reuters, notes: “gone are the days when everything was geared towards a few pre-seasonal catwalk shows giving them [fashion houses] months to roll out their collections.”
With the advent of “social media influencers,” there is a much higher demand for quicker releases which feature more products. As such, it is no longer practical for luxury fashion brands to produce within the same borders as their headquarters.
The Italian fashion house Armani, when speaking about the location of its suppliers, mentioned that “convenience and proximity are only two of the precise criteria” used by luxury brands to decide where their goods are manufactured. It is perhaps for these reasons that many fashion houses have now opted to have their products manufactured in southeast Europe.
Factories within the Balkan region are just beginning to establish themselves as a go-to for many of these brands as they attempt to meet widescale demand. While the region has previously been home to lower-profile garment manufacturers, this is the first time that they have done business with high fashion clientele. And, according to statistics, it’s set to be a profitable venture for the region. According to Reuters, this sector of the industry is said to grow from 4-5% this year, as opposed to the 3.5-4.5% expected from the rest of the fashion industry.
Such prospects can only mean an influx of wealth and subsequent growth for the local economies. However, one wonders how this opportunity will affect the people making these items in particular.
Armani’s statement that among the expectations held for potential manufacturers are “quality, reliability, and respect of company conduct codes” should imply an adherence to fair the treatment of parties on both sides of the contract. Furthermore, as the economy grows, factories may begin to offer further benefits to their employees. Miglena Hristova, the owner of a factory in Rousse, Bulgaria, mentioned installing new bathrooms and fitness rooms, among other renovations, as a way of ensuring that she does not lose employees to other jobs in Bulgaria’s growing economy.
While this information bodes well for both the luxury fashion industry and the manufacturers, it is rather hard to make predictions as to the extent of the effects this trend will have. There are some major names that have remained quiet regarding their manufacturing practices. For example, Mihai Tincu, head of Romanian clothing manufacturer Rapsodia Conf, cited Prada and Maison Margiela among the labels that send in larger orders. However, while Margiela has said that the vast majority of its products are made in Italy (Around 90%), Prada has made no comment.
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