The fashion industry is considered to be one of the modern industries that continue to establish a place for themselves in the international community. Before the 1850s, most people had their clothes custom-made, and thus the fashion industry was still in its initial stages of development (Runfola & Guercini 2013). However, now the fashion industry has undergone serious transformations in the sense that while there are still a lot of people who prefer custom-made clothes, there is also a wide range of companies that manufacture clothes for the mass market. The main goal of fashion in this case is to provide people with clothes that they would like to wear in order to look fashionable without necessarily having to sacrifice their comfort. Therefore, the emphasis of this brief is put on the real fashion industry that involves creating and manufacturing clothes for real people, not only for the runway models. With a growing global economy and growing population, the fashion industry is expected to also grow exponentially. Growing demand and a growing purchasing power are just some of the critical factors that the industry can take advantage of in the future (Platt 2014). However, it must be appreciated that while the American and European fashion industries are the most advanced in the world, they all rely on outsourcing, looking for raw materials, and they get the products manufactured overseas for the purpose of economy. The international fashion industry, however, is growing in leaps and depends on the level of the exposure that can be afforded, thus posing a significant threat to the current big players of the industry. Some people anticipate that countries in Africa, for example, will soon have a thriving fashion industry that aims to outrace the rest of the world. The rising of the fashion industry in the emerging economies means that dominant fashion powerhouses in the United States and Europe may lose substantial revenue to emerging designers in Africa and from other regions. With this in mind, it is critical to examine how the fashion industry in the West can handle the growing competition from Africa and the rest of the world.
When it comes to fashion, the future is always a crucial matter to regard, especially considering the changing nature of consumers’ tastes and preferences. However, this problem exists only in regard to fashion trends. Within the contexts of business, the brands are more stable, though they do have to face a high level of competition. Some of the significant trends and drivers of change in this industry include the economy, market situation, society, culture, technology, and policy.
The economy determines whether the market demand will rise or fall depending on the targeted market. As the economy grows, living standards also grow, and people become more financially stable. This means that the most exclusive brands are likely to make more sales as more people feel like they are in a position to spend money on the things that they want. Such market context enables the clothing and textile industry to flourish. The purchasing power, the percentage of the population with high standards of living, and the overall market demand are all aspects of the economy that determine how the organization will perform in the future. Currently, the economy seems to grow steadily, and thus the perspectives of the future look rather attractive for this industry.
Initially, the countries in Africa were considered as parts of an emerging market that provided the already prepared place for products in the Western fashion industry. However, later the market situation has changed significantly. While companies in the West continue to venture into Africa and the rest of the world to sell their products, these other parts of the world are also venturing into the fashion industry while also promoting the concept of buying the local brands. The ideology of associating only with the international brands is no longer considered as solid — thus the Western fashion companies are being adequately challenged. In the future, this trend will significantly affect the way fashion companies from the US and Europe conduct business within a global context. There exists a need to explore ways of creating a competitive advantage for these local and yet very efficient fashion companies that will soon move to the international fashion market as well.
The society is not explicitly expected to change much, but any changes within the society will demand a change in the way these organizations operate. Currently, individuality is one of the most crucial drivers in the industry. People want to be different, to be whoever they choose to be, and they use fashion to express their personalities. This means that for the most part, the companies have to create a lot of exclusive products as opposed to mass production in the past. Such a trend must be considered in the future as well. With regard to culture, it can be noted that the world is getting more globalized, and incorporating some exotic cultures into the product designs is no longer considered implausible. Consequently, fashion designers are expected to step up and play a role in bringing global cultures together.
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In regard to technology, dynamic nature implies a need for the industry to be efficiently attentive. Internet shopping is one of the latest technological changes that the industry has had to adapt to. Therefore, even in the future, all industries should be willing to work with the technology industry in order to serve their customers better.
The changes in policy lead to changes in the way the business operates. Also, policies are also key drivers in the industry. Issues such as intellectual property rights and brands are very critical for this industry, and any changes will affect how these organizations manage to create and market their products internationally.
Based on the aforementioned trends and change drivers within the fashion industry, the three key areas of change that managers within organizations in the fashion industry will have to work with for a sustainable future are technology, market situation, and society. Companies in the fashion industry need room for flexible adaptations to technological advancements while embracing the changes in the market conditions not only locally, but also globally. Consequently, society will continue to change based on what people seek to achieve in regard to fashion, and it will have a significant impact on how the organizations perform within their respective markets.
When evaluating the organizational dynamics, there are seven key elements that one must consider. These elements include key regulatory processes, employees, other tangible assets, the external environment, the internal social system, dominant coalitions, and organizational techniques (Diefenbach 2007). All these elements define how a certain organization can conduct business within given circumstances. To survive in the future, companies in the fashion industry will have to focus on three areas of change that include technology, market situation, and society (Bryson 2008). The elements of the organizational dynamics that are most closely linked to these sectors include the external environment, critical regulatory processes, employees, other tangible assets, and internal social system. Each one of these elements will have to be adjusted to match the future contexts of the fashion industry.
The external environment with regards to the organizational dynamics only refers to the circumstances of the organizations as related to the business processes that they undertake. Some of the important factors to consider include the public attitudes, the economy, the laws, and the price levels, among other things (Hotho & Pollard 2007). Technological advancements are often made with the aim of making lives better in one way or another. The invention of e-commerce, for example, was prompted by the need to cater to consumers who lacked the time or just preferred the convenience of not having to go shopping at the brick and mortar outlet (Ahmed, Chowdhury, Uddin & Ferdous 2014). As such, the company has to consider the public attitudes related to advances in technology (Andrews, Cameron & Harris 2008). If the market outlook for new technology is positive, the organization should be willing to comply.
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Under critical organizational processes, the management must consider relying on technology for information gathering and decision making more. Big data is no longer a practical idea in the business industry, but it is also no longer sufficient in regard to creating a competitive advantage in a highly competitive market (Porcheret, Main, Croft, McKinley, Hassell & Dziedzic 2014). Organizations need effective mechanisms to cluster and interpret big data in order to benefit from automated market research. In the future, big data will grow exponentially in volume, thus necessitating the existence of a higher analytical and interpreting capacity.
Employees and other tangible assets also determine how well the company will perform, and in this case, IT experts are a necessity within any organization. However, rather than hiring new IT experts as the field advances, the management must consider investing in the continuous learning processes for their employees. Also, tangible assets such as computers and servers are a considerable investment in this case, based on the growing need for in-house information systems for decision support. In the future, the management will be expected to empower employees, and the best way to accomplish this is to give them the technological infrastructure that will in turn give them access to the organizational knowledge pool.
The internal social system refers to a corporate culture that will also have to change. As the companies embrace technology, some of the conventional corporate structures, such as hierarchy and bureaucracy, will have to be forgotten. Consequently, an innovative corporate structure will be ideal as each employee will have all the information they need to make decisions that are meant to benefit the organization (Jansson 2014). More space to make these decisions will ensure that the management is no longer as involved in the small decisions as they are at the moment.
The market conditions will change significantly in the future, and to remain operational within the new situation, the management will have to adjust their dynamics to prepare for more severe competition from companies in the previously emerging markets, while also catering to the growing global market. The external environment will have to be adjusted as well, especially in regard to the market dynamics. A larger market and a stronger competition mean that the company will have to focus more on their marketing strategies (Mason 2007). For better outcomes, the management must be willing to redefine their strategy in order to refine their target market and thus to consolidate their focus on a market where the brand is stronger, but the sales are minimal. Alternatively, the company can concentrate on innovations as a way of establishing a competitive advantage in an overcrowded market.
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The key organizational processes will also have to be improved in order to match the market situation. Currently, most companies rely on competitors’ intelligence to determine their operational strategies (Collier & Evans 2013). However, as the dynamics shift in the fashion industry, simply knowing the competition will not be enough. The market will be flooded with competitors from all over the world. A more sustainable approach will be able to identify the consumers and thus open a possibility to invest in direct market research and relevant big data analytics (Griffin 2015). Understanding the customers is an efficient process now, and it will still be as important when there are thousands of competitors seeking their attention and loyalty in the global fashion industry.
Furthermore, in a growing and highly competitive market, the employees and other tangible assets will be even more valuable to the company. Rather than looking at the growing population and the fact that it provides the industry with a larger labor market, the organizations will have to consider the expenses involved in finding the right personnel to handle the consumers as expected. High competition within the industry will mean that the companies will have to provide impeccable customer service, and achieving this goal often requires a lot of training and motivation (Sung & Jin 2014). The employees will thus have to be fully engaged and encouraged to stay with the organization. The management may even consider long-term contracts with their best talents.
Based on the dynamics of the market situation, the management will also have to look at the internal social system. A corporate culture that promotes career growth as part of the employee engagement and motivation package will be mandatory in this case. The employees thrive in organizations that allow them enough room to grow as individuals and as professionals (Kim & Johnson 2009). Establishing an environment that encourages the workers’ professional growth often requires the management to be willing to take risks and to promote innovative thinking, while also supporting and enabling decision making with the help of decision-support systems and comprehensive knowledge management systems, implemented within the organization.
Changes in the society will be dictated by a host of factors, the majority of which are mainly unpredictable. However, individualism is the basic factor. People are likely to need unique personal brand images that will prompt them to spend more money. The public attitudes that the companies will be dealing with in this case will play a great role in their performance. Additionally, the company must invest in the market research, although this approach will be rather simplified in the age of the bigger Big Data, provided that the management is willing to invest in the tedious and often very expensive process of analyzing and interpreting the collected data to be used in decision making within the organization (Wang 2016). People change regularly in regard to their tastes and preferences, and in the fashion industry, these changes determine which products will sell and which ones will have to be disposed of.
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The key organizational processes that must be adjusted to match the society include information gathering and decision making. The companies may be able to deal with the long and tedious processes required for creating a new product, but in the future, these methods will put the company at risk of being outdone by the competition (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2011). To avoid this, shorter approval processes and more knowledge-based decision support systems should diminish the need for multiple consultations before critical decisions are made. The management will have to either work very closely with the subordinates or directly empower them to make all necessary decisions while seeking approval only when the support of the management is critical to the project.
The employees will also have to be more empowered to work within an organization where the decisions are made as swiftly as possible. In the future, the companies in the fashion industry will not be able to afford employees who are not sure of what they are doing. The employees must be able to make difficult decisions without relying on the management for guidance. Therefore, the companies must start looking for highly qualified employees who have not only the credentials but also the skill set and personality necessary for critical thinking.
The social aspect of the industry’s growth will also require an adjustment in the internal social system. Additionally, the corporate culture must open the new perspectives, putting an emphasis on the individuality, because in order to address the unique needs of the individual customer, the company must first allow the employees to be individuals (Shanley 2007). The corporate structure should thus be able to recognize individualism despite the heightened need for collaboration and seamless operations among the departments.
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The sustainable responses to changes require a critical understanding and appreciation of their nature. Within the fashion industry, some of the possible changes are related to the market situation, the technological orientation, and the society-based influences of the business as a whole (Runfola & Guercini 2013; Wigley & Aikaterini 2011). To respond effectively to each of these aspects, the management will have to pay attention to the source of the changes and thus to effectively adjust their operations as needed.
The market situation will change mainly because of the growing fashion industry in the emerging markets. As such, there are new competitors that are slowly developing, capable of flooding the markets with exciting new products that could present formidable alternatives to what is on the market at the moment. The management can not prevent countries in Africa from joining the global fashion industry. The best response, in this case, is to prepare for the influx of competition by strengthening the brand and seeking out new fronts on which to compete.
The technology base will also change radically, as people become more dependent on technology. The management needs to prepare the organization to be more competitive in an era where technology is a necessity. Similarly, investing in technology will no longer be considered as optional. The best response will be to prepare the company by ensuring that the IT personnel are well equipped with relevant knowledge. While the company could wait to hire IT experts when they start falling behind in regard to technology, a better alternative would be to train their current IT team so they could enrich their organizational knowledge pool. This experience will benefit the whole organization in the future.
As for the society, it is clear that people are increasingly focusing on being ‘different’ while the current fashion industry is mainly built on the concept of mass production, where different designs are produced in large quantities in order to satisfy demand based on the fashion trends (Pedersen & Andersen, 2015). In the future, the situation will change, as each person will be looking for a unique look that sets them apart from the masses. The ideal response would be to seek out the right talent that could enable the organization to embrace and appreciate the concept of individualism. Promoting and supporting individualism amongst the employees will give the organization a broad range of product designs to choose from, thus enabling them to meet market demand for special and exclusive products.
Responding to changes is mainly a matter of understanding the source of the modification and of further aligning the organizational dynamics to match the contexts of the new situation. Furthermore, the central role of the management is to evaluate the changes regarding the particular operational circumstances, and thus to determine which aspects need to be adjusted and which can remain the same (Ferrazzi 2014). In the fashion industry, a lot of adjustments will have to be made, especially by companies in Europe and the US, considering that there is an expected entrance of African fashion businesses into the global fashion market.