All entries for Tuesday 17 May 2005

May 17, 2005

China, Trade & the Fashion Industry

Staying on the topic of the EU and American fear of Chinese textile imports, Reason magazine has published an article on “How cheap Chinese textiles could transform high fashion”.

It appears imitation goods aren’t necessarily the bane of very fashion designer’s life.

For as long as snobbery exists, cheap Chinese imitations will be a boon to haute couture and its American equivalent. Clothes are a both a way to signal status and to exhibit a certain mastery over a system of rules, and their value is dependent on their scarcity. Now that the H&Ms and Wet Seals of the world are packed with the season's bullfighter jackets and flounced skirts, the truly fashionable have moved on—to the benefit of the same circle of designers who trotted out those styles in the first place.

And once again, the consequences of legislation are not thought through fully.

Rivoli, author of The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy, says the quotas have actually proven disastrous to the industry by accelerating the race to the bottom. Quotas imposed on China led the production to shift to Hong Kong; when Hong Kong was hit with similar restrictions, factories popped up in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Writes Rivoli, "Each time a hole in the import dyke was plugged by quotas—on cotton socks from China, say, or silk ties from Thailand—the effect was not to preserve US jobs but instead to increase the force of imports gushing in from other countries and categories."

Read the full article entitled “Couture Revolution”, here.

Found via Dynamist Blog

(I promise this post wasn't an excuse to post a picture of a pretty lady.)


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