What Do You Take Away from FASH455?

I encourage everyone to watch the above two short videos, which provide a great wrap-up for FASH455 and remind us the true meaning of our course.

Indeed, I hope students can take away essential knowledge about textile and apparel (T&A) trade & sourcing from FASH455. So far in the course we’ve discussed various trade theories, evolution pattern of the global T&A industry, three major T&A supply chains in the world today (namely the “Western-Hemisphere” supply chain, “Factory Asia” supply chain based on the flying geese model and the phenomenon of intra-region T&A trade in Europe) as well as T&A trade policy. Understanding how trade and sourcing work will be highly relevant and beneficial to your future career in the fashion industry, no matter you’d like to become a fashion designer, buyer, merchandiser, sourcing specialist or marketing analyst.

However, more importantly, I hope FASH helps students shape a big picture vision of the T&A industry in today’s global economy and provides students a fresh new way (perspective) of looking at the world. Throughout FASH455, we’ve examined many critical, timely and pressing global agendas that are closely connected with the T&A industry, from the social responsibility problem, controversy of used clothing trade, debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to trade politics in the U.S. presidential election. It is important to keep in mind that we wear more than just clothes: We also wear the global economy, international business, public policy and trade politics that make affordable, fashionable, and safe clothes possible and available for hardworking families.

Likewise, I hope FASH455 puts students into thinking the meaning of being a FASH major (as well as a college graduate) and how to positively contribute to the world we are living today. What is often overlooked is that T&A is far more than just about “sewing”, “fashion magazine”, “shopping” and “Project Runway”. The fact is, as one of the largest and most economically influential sectors in the world today, T&A industry plays a critical and unique role creating jobs, promoting economic development, enhancing human development and reducing poverty. For example, globally over 120 million people remain directly employed in the T&A industry, a good proportion of whom are females living in poor rural areas. For most developing countries, T&A usually accounts for 70%–90% of their total merchandise exports and provide one of the very few opportunities for these countries to participate in globalization. We are as important as any other major on the campus!

Last but not last, I hope from taking FASH455, students can take away some meaningful questions that can inspire their future study and even life’s pursuit. For example:

  • How to more equally distribute the benefits & cost of globalization among different countries and groups of people?
  • How to make sure that tragedies like the Rana Plaza building collapse will never happen again?
  • How to make international trade work better and more effectively lead to economic growth and human development?
  • How to achieve sustainability while develop the economy? To which extent shall we renovate the conventional growth model?
  • How to use trade policy as a tool to solve some tough global issues such as labor practices and environmental standard?

These questions have no good answer yet. But they are waiting for you, the young professional and new generation of leaders, to explore and write the history, based on your knowledge, wisdom, responsibility, courage and creativity!

So what do you take away from FASH455? Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.


Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

40 thoughts on “What Do You Take Away from FASH455?”

  1. Since my time during FASH455 I have learned so much about the textile and apparel trade and sourcing industry. I especially think the first video “Trade at Work” really summarizes what the class is all about. The video shows the whole process in reverse of all the steps, people, and resources needed in producing our goods we use everyday such as a pair of sneakers. I think I really took for granted where I buy my apparel and never took in to consideration that amount of work that goes into what I buy. I have learned that it’s extremely important to be knowledgable about where my products come from because it has an effect on our economy in the United States, the sustainability in our environment and the lives of those who make a living off what we purchase.

  2. Since taking your FASH 455 course I learned a lot about international retail and how it affects us everyday. I learned a lot about trade and all the different trade deals which is very important for furthering my career in the fashion industry. The videos help show how important it is to know where your products came from and how they originated. Our garments are only from one country. countries from all over the world help manufacture and design one product from design to sourcing. I really enjoyed taking this course and learned a lot about international manufacturing and sourcing.

  3. Since enrolling in FASH 455, I have gained new appreciation and knowledge of how fundamentally global the T&A industry is. The “Trade at Work” video above supports this perfectly, since different components of one garment may be sourced from a number of countries. That being said, it would be a grave error to downplay the significance of understanding the globalization of sourcing, coupled with trade policies, since we wear more than just clothing, we wear the global economy. Moving forward, I am inspired to possibly pursue a career in international sourcing and global trading. At the very least, I will continue my learning and exploration of global trade policies and agendas, in order to be an informed member of the fashion industry.

  4. FASH 455 has given me a whole new perspective on the fashion industry. I always knew how crucial trade and sourcing were to the textile and apparel industry but now I can better understand what all goes into the supply chain and overall design, manufacturing, and retailing processes. We learned about trade theory including a lot of information on the TPP, AGOA, and CAFTA-DR and NAFTA. These agreements were all very important for the growth of developing nations as well as the profit of developed nations. For example, by taking the comparative advantage, developed nations could manufacture goods in developing countries and then trade products that they produced more efficiently themselves domestically. Vast resources and cheap labor in developing nations were often beneficial to the developed nations, especially the U.S. and Europe. China remains to be the world’s largest exporter, but there is the “rising star”, Vietnam to watch out for. I also learned how important globalization is for the textile and apparel industry because most of the garments I wear do not solely come from one place. They may be designed in the U.S., sourced in Asia, and have buttons or other elements imported from a whole other place. The level of variety in textile and apparel would not be possible without trade. I found all of this plus more of my acquired knowledge from FASH 455 to be very interesting and beneficial to my future career path.

  5. I just wanna say FASH 455 is a great course for me because before taking the course, I wanted to know the whole global trade and different policies but I did not have a specific access to learn about it. After taking the course, I briefly could talk about different trade policies and how those policies influence fashion industry in the world. Moreover, I am from China, so I significantly pay more attention on Chinese fashion industry. The industry in China has dramatically improved. Because of increasing wage of labor, a lot of fashion companies has targeted other lower wage countries, and it is a signal that manufacture of fashion in China already moved forward to the next step. Finally, I definitely believe that the knowledge I got from the course could benefit my future career.

  6. I thought FASH455 was a very eye-opening and insightful class, as a fashion merchandising major. I took away major points such as: how the T&A industry influences major trade policies, environmentally sustainable projects, and how it impacts everyone around us. When thinking about clothes, many do not realize how much goes into it. The tariffs, the production life cycle, and all the workers. It is more than a fashion brand or a retail store. Before taking this class I never truly understood the TPP negotiation, or NAFTA/CAFTA. This class has influenced me to educate those around me.

  7. After taking FASH455 I feel like I have gained so much knowledge about the international textile and apparel industry. It was nice to be able to watch the news and the debates and be able to truly understand what was going on and to have an educated opinion on the topic. I think it is important for people our age especially to be knowledgeable on important current world events because we control how the future plays out. I thought it was especially important that we were educated on these topics while we were able to vote in our first election. I want to also mention that I was able to help one of my friends who is a fashion student at FIT answering of her homework questions about the TPP!

  8. I have learned so much in this class and am thankful that I got the opportunity to learn new subjects and broaden my knowledge. I’ve learned many new concepts and trade theories and how they affect the apparel industry. Before this class I didn’t have a good grasp on how much the economy and trade deals have on the global textiles and apparel industry and now I have learned that it does have a large impact on the industry. This class has made me aware of politics and has opened my views about free trade and learning about the complicated TPP and T-TIP agreements. I found AGOA to be interesting because it is new and an upcoming agreement that I think having knowledge on this topic will benefit my future career in the industry and give me an advantage! This class has truly made me think about if this is a section of the industry that I want to learn more about!

    1. Thank you for letting me know. Indeed, like many other FTAs, AGOA involves serious consideration of promoting regional economic development through trade. The so called “third-country fabric provision” in particular intends to encourage US apparel retailers/importers to source more from Africa. Done right, trade can be a solution for many problems.

  9. In Fash 455 I really developed an interest for global sourcing and manufacturing. In the end, the biggest take away I received from Fash 455 is that the fashion industry is a complex industry that is always growing. So many countries have the labor and or capital to be apart of this industry. I now go into stores and look at the labels of the clothing and question where did the textiles come from because I now understand that the label on our clothing restricts the idea of “made in.” Lastly, I really enjoyed how we did not only learn through lectures but were able to take our knowledge and write about in the case studies. I feel as though this really helped me sharpen my understanding of the subjects.

  10. When i enrolled for FASH455 i was unsure what to expect from the course and whether or not the topic would interest me. Over the course of the semester, this class has made me think more critically and gain a better understanding of a different side of the fashion industry.

    What i found most interesting is how relevant the industry is in comparison to how people underestimate and disregard all aspects of the industry. For example, product development and all the steps involved. In particular I think the transportation and manufacturing aspect of the textile and apparel industry are most commonly overlooked. I think that consumers do not realize the trade and sourcing agreements that are created in order to produce and manufacture garments.

    Additionally people do not recognize the relationship of the textile complex and its connection to the broader economic development. For the textile and apparel industry to thrive, all industries must come together. For example, a factory must be designed by architects, who work together with engineers, who work with construction materials that are generated from textile fibers. The correlation between industries is rarely connected or considered relevant to each other. The Textile and Apparel industry and politics have a lot more in common that people would consider. Even as a fashion student I was unaware of the role the industry plays in politics and public policy, until taking part in the class.

  11. Me enrollment in this class has led me to amazing insights, has brought me full circle in understanding this importance of the T&A industry, and has made me question many different aspects. I think one thing I’ve found so interesting is that no article of clothing is simply “Made in China”, “Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in USA”, etc. While a label might bare one of these country’s names it does not fully show the process, from design to retail many countries are involved in various production aspects of a product. Two summers ago I had interned at Ralph Lauren in production and this class has helped me have a better understanding of my role in that department. Before this class I had not been this aware of the various different trade agreements that the US has come toe enter and the importance of these agreements as they effect all of us consumers and our lifestyles. I also had no idea how involved the government was with the fashion industry specifically and how important this sector is to every single American whether they are aware of that or not. I think one of the biggest takeaways for me is that every position has a role and obligation to trade and foreign investments. Regardless of what career path I chose to take in the fashion industry the topics discussed in this class will be very present and prominent. I leave this class knowing that I have the responsibility to improve the fashion industry, whether that’s educating others, improving factory conditions, increasing employment, etc. I believe that I can make an impact in some way after everything that we have discussed in FASH455.

  12. Since I learned Fash455, I started to understand the relationship between fashion companies and suppliers. And I realize the importance to seek the global outsourcing for fashion companies. The important fact that developed countries have capital to invest technologies and developing countries have lower labor cost and intense labor force. Thus, two groups work together that can boost economic growth, allocate sourcing more efficient, and obtain the maximize profits. I think that the videos really embody the steps for global sourcing. And it is really related to our course. Fash 455 really changes my opinions about fashion. Indeed, fashion is not only apparels and marketing. It involves the global cooperation and economic. I am glad that I can take the course and take away some meaningful and useful information.

  13. After taking Fash455 my insights and understanding of the Textile and Apparel industry have grown to new standards. I now understand the behind the scenes work that is often looked past by consumers. It is extremely satisfying to have the understanding of sourcing and manufacturing that goes into making all the apparel we wear. I have a new appreciation for factories that are doing all the work to bring the products to life. Although non-fashion majors often think of our major as “unimportant”, they don’t have the understanding that we do about how much it really effects our countries economy and other countries globally. I’m glad that I was able to take away so much from this course and feel that I can explain to people how meaningful the textile and apparel industry really is.

  14. FASH455 taught me so much about the Textile and Apparel industry and allowed me to have a better understanding on just how important some of the issues are surrounding this industry and trade. I genuinely really feel like I learned so much and as a teacher you were extremely engaging and passionate and that helped to reinforce the information. The case studies in particular were very interesting because we were able to provide our own thoughts and learn from our classmates as well and continue to search for answers and solutions to real life world issues. I now understand that there is so much more to just “Made in China” on the label and understand the intricate sourcing process. Overall it was a great class and very important!

  15. This class for me was extremely insightful and educational, before I took this class I really didn’t know a lot about global apparel and textile trade and sourcing and just how important it is to our industry. I think in order to be successful in any part of the Textile and Apparel industry you need to have a solid knowledge of every aspect and thanks to this class I have a much deeper understanding of the issues surrounding trade and sourcing. In particular I found the case studies very helpful as it is great to learn from real life accounts and examples. I think that this class was particularly educational because it pertains to what is actually happening in the industry right now and what might/could happen in the future, as opposed to just learning about things that have happened in the past, I think it is great that I can now speak knowledgeably about a variety of different trade agreements and many other things that I had no idea about before! Overall I think this class was very important and definitely helpful for my future!

  16. Since I took your Fash455 class I have learned that there is a lot of politics and global issues that many of the regular consumers don’t realize happen when there is trade between countries. Trade agreements like the TPP or NAFTA I was unaware these agreements were ever made or were ever put into a position where they lead to disagreements between parties. I truly learned a lot about how the global trading system works or more so how it doesn’t work and what they’ve done to try and improve the situation for all countries involved.

  17. In terms of an academic class, fash455 challenged me in critical thinking and problem-solving. These are two things I really never felt I was good at, but never had opportunities to work on those skills or be challenged by them. At the beginning of taking this class I was actually worried I wouldn’t do well because the class challenged me to read more, critically think, and open my perspective into gathering ideas of everything in terms of policy, sustainability, and trade. So besides the fash455 material I learned, I thought the class really helped me understand how to critically think and work through case studies, both of which I really tried to avoid. These skills will be necessary and an asset to a future career!

    As for the material learned in the class, I’m genuinely amazed at how complex the industry is and how much of an impact it makes on people and places all around the world – for better or for worse. It makes me all the more excited to take part in this industry for the better. I’d love to look into production and sourcing as a career, at the very least, interning and learning more about the job. I’ve definitely struggled with wondering where I fit in the industry since I’m not artistically creative for a designer position, and I don’t necessarily enjoy the financial business for a buying position. Production and PD seems like the best fit for me as I go through school, but only time will tell!

  18. Since taking FASH455, I have further realized my interest in politics. This class took an in-depth look at the complications and frustrations that come with trying to negotiate policy. Especially when it comes to international policy, trade becomes particularly difficult because there are so many different players with different interests. This class has particularly taught me that in every deal there are winners and losers, but has further taught me that even within a single country there are winners and losers.
    This class has also made it incredibly clear how global the fashion industry truly is. A single garment can be made with yarns from on country, be turned into fabric in another country, dyed in a different country and be constructed in an entirely different country. Without T&A trade policies none of this would be possible.

  19. I have loved every minute of FASH455. Learning about the global impact of our everyday purchasing decisions places myself in a different frame of mind regarding origins of products and the measures to get to the retailer’s selling floors. I really enjoyed that by attempting to answer one question regarding one T&A debated topic, we also have to answer all other aspects of free trade that are affected by our existing trade agreements; ie. having stronger ties with developing countries like Vietnam means not only coming to a middle ground on trade barriers but also understanding the affects of sourcing on the economies of both the USA and Vietnam. I think we sometimes underestimate the power of the T&A trade industries, but, I can say that I will continue to read the news to better my trading knowledge. I have learned that in my education, I love to grasp the concept of “Why”; I have enjoyed our discussions in class because we dive into great detail on “why” our industries are so heavily reliant on free trade–and why that’s different based on the nation we discuss. I’m excited to learn more about the T&A industries and their influences on a global scale.

  20. I knew very little about trade and trade policy and how it effected the global market in the T&A industry prior too being in FASH455. Now however I feel much more informed and understand our global economy a lot better. It brings to reality just how big globalization has become especially with all the new technology available to us. I really enjoyed learning about how we as consumers affect the economy both domestically and globally. It has also made me realize how many sectors there are that still need improvement or modifications especially when it comes to sourcing. This class has helped me learn more and be more aware of the world around me from a market point of view.

  21. Because of FASH455, I have learned so much more about the fashion industry that I did not know previously. Sourcing was a topic in fashion that I wasn’t so interested in, and because of this class that has changed. We have been able to hear from many interesting people that work in this industry and we could hear about their different jobs and opinions on the textile and apparel industry. In this class we also got to learn about the differences about the textile industry and the apparel industry – and that they don’t always agree. In order to go forward in this industry it is important to know about these things!

  22. Before taking FASH455, I had a completely different idea about trade with other nations like China and within developing countries. I mainly saw the negative aspects of trade which included domestic job loss and unethical working conditions for garment factory workers. This class has given me so much knowledge about the true benefits behind free trade and why many of the positives outweigh the negatives. Some of the major points I will take away from this class are that free trade does not take jobs away from U.S. citizens and it may even create them. While there may not be very many apparel production factories in the United States there are still jobs created in other sectors of the retail industry that come our ability as a country to take advantage of the resources and employees that other countries have. The other major point that I will keep in mind is that yes, while there are many poor conditions for garment workers in developing countries their economies depend on apparel production and by outsourcing to these countries we provide jobs for millions of people that would otherwise be living in poverty. Another main point I can take away from this class is that trade leaves the nation with many “winners” and “losers”. It is important to acknowledge how a certain trade agreement can leave one country a winner and one a loser and why this happens.

  23. FASH455 has been a very eye-opening and helpful class. Before entering college, I began to become aware of issues in unethical labor and dangerous working conditions in the apparel industry. Some people seemed believe that the solution to these problems was to buy clothing made in the U.S. This class, and the video above helped me realize why the textile and apparel industry is so important in developing countries and helps people escape poverty and especially women gain more control over their economic lives. We learned in this class that trade and sourcing really are essential in the textile and apparel industry, but there are still many complicated issues that need to be solved. It was especially encouraging to learn that major companies like Talbots have no tolerance for sub-contracting and unsafe working conditions. It is important for me as a FASH major entering the workforce to consider these issues and work toward solutions going forward.

  24. Fash455 has been my favorite class this year for the reason being it has been the most applicable course to the industry and current news. With the presidential election that occurred this past fall, discussions about trade allowed me to understand the debate and develop an opinion that contributes towards the future of the country. The “made in” phenomena had encouraged me to look more in depth from where my clothing is produced, or assembled I should say. The first case study about Bangladesh made me care more about corporate social responsibility, and because of that I will look for companies that practice good ethics in this area of their business. The phone interview with Gail Strickler was interesting and insightful; being able to talk to a representative for TPP and understanding their stance while fully educating us on the benefits of the system and acknowledging some challenges, was truly rewarding. The speaker we had last week from Talbots had opened me up to other possibilities the fashion industry has to offer such as the sourcing department, production/product development department, the allocation department, and the planning departments, all in which offer great opportunities for a future career. Understanding aspects of international trade, business, and sourcing gives me a better understanding of the fashion industry in total and it has allowed me to take what I learned and potentially utilize the information in my future career.

  25. Fash455 has been an eye opener for me. It not only introduced me to aspects of the textile and fashion industry that I had never heard of, but also tied together all aspects of T&A to create a complete supply chain. I loved that this class taught us about something different than all of our other classes. By examining each major supply chain: the western hemisphere, Asia, and Europe, it showed me all the advantages and disadvantages to the different locations that businesses must evaluate when picking sourcing destinations. I also thought it was very interesting to learn about trade policies, and free trade agreements. It was informative to learn about how the government creates this policy, and then how corporations choose to use or not use the policies in place. I believe this class taught me so much because it was such a comprehensive class, and from beginning to end everything tied together. Overall, Fash455 opened my eyes to new aspects of the fashion industry and brought together everything I have learned in my other courses while tying them to real life.

  26. As a FASH major at the University of Delaware, there are a lot of people who do not understand what the major is about and underestimate its importance. After taking FASH455, I finally feel like I have the knowledge to express the significant impact fashion has on the world. FASH455 has taught me so many parts of the industry that I never realized before. The fashion industry has created an abundance of job opportunities for people all over the world; especially unskilled workers and women in developing countries.
    Decisions made in the fashion industry have a huge impact on the world, including: the economy, foreign relations, social responsibility, and the environment. I will never forget our first case study about the Rana Plaza tragedy because that is the first time I realized the direct influence a decision made in a fashion company can affect the lives of so many. If Rana Plaza had better enforced safety regulations, the whole situation could have been avoided.
    FASH455 has also given me a much better understanding on trade policies and the ongoing debate about the TPP. With the Presidential election this year, I was follow along with what the candidates were saying about trade and have educated opinions and comments about the different viewpoints.
    FASH455 is a critical class for all fashion majors because it truly proves how important fashion is and why you should be proud to call yourself a FASH major.

  27. FASH455 is my favorite class in this semester because it is really insightful and interesting. After taking this course, I have learned and received a lot of information on global trading issues. I never really paid much attention on this aspect before, and now I know that global trading and sourcing issues are extremely important and at the same time very closely related to the fashion industry. In the past, I thought that global trading and sourcing issues were boring topics that I do not need to deal with in my future career. Now, I know the great importance of global trading policies like TPP and sourcing methods, and I started to get interested in this aspect. I really enjoyed doing the assignments, especially the case studies, they are very useful in helping me understand more about the knowledges received and having discussions is really a good way to interact with classmates and get to know more about different opinions on real life situations related to fashion industry.

  28. Overall, FASH455 has been the most thought provoking course I have taken under the fashion department. It is truly a course that is essential to learn before entering the work force as it is important to understand the global effects of the fashion industry and how to achieve more sustainable practices. Learning about social responsibility while under the umbrellas of FTAs has been quite eye opening. I believe that many overlook the connection between trade and foreign policies and fashion merchandising. The amount of resources given throughout the course has given us tools that further explain why the types of jobs available to us are there for.

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