The fashion industry vs the garment industry. What does fashion business mean for Guyana?

This article was first published in the Stabroek News Friday Edition on March 3rd, 2017.

Given my experience within the fashion industry in Toronto, as well as my current position managing a garment factory here in Guyana, I really wanted my introductory article to be focused on the fashion and garment industry’ in Guyana today

The business of Fashion is a globally recognized behemoth of an industry that was last valued at 2.7 trillion USD. Trillion, with a T. The word industry covers everything from clothing and accessories, to marketing and magazines.

In the scope of Guyana, I have people constantly asking me what I think about the fashion industry here. Speaking strictly from a business perspective it doesn’t exist.

Of course, there are numerous issues to look at when judging an entire industry — innovation, stagnation, how accepted it is culturally, the resources that are readily available, access to guidance and mentorship, and sheer knowledge of opportunities that are out there or whether opportunities exist.

The use of the word industry intimates production and profit making — the kind of enterprise that has the ability to directly affect the economy.

According to a 2007 case study done by the United Nations Development Program the apparel manufacturing industry in Guyana grossed around 12 million USD annually, that was ten years ago.

Like any millennial, my google research first landed me on Wikipedia.com when I began looking at major differences between garment and fashion industries. This is what they had to say, “The clothing (garment) sector is concerned with all types of clothes, from fashion to uniforms. The fashion industry closely follows - and sets – fashion trends to always supply the latest in non-functional clothing.”

To people who are well versed in the topic, a fashion industry and garment industry go hand in hand — but though similar, they are not the same.

I’ll simplify, think about Facebook — when you log in you see the front end, and it is aesthetically pleasing, and seems effortless. This front-end is what we know as the Fashion Industry.

There is also a back end of Facebook where all the code lies. This is what gives the front end of Facebook the functionality it needs to perform. This back end is the garment manufacturing industry.

One side is glitzy and glamorous and what 98% of the people who are trying to get into fashion are aiming for.

The other side, is what the fashion industry is built on.

So how do we change this? Are we culturally prepared to accept a creative industry as a legitimate business sector?