The Fashion Industry: Meeting a Need or Creating It?



This writer has owned and operated multiple businesses over the years. I learned early on what used to be the foundational principle of business: find a need and meet it. That principle sustained me through many years of entrepreneurial endeavors. Even now, as a writer, I am meeting the needs of my clients by producing content on their behalf.

It is with that in mind that I approach this post on the fashion industry. I look at the industry and I see different players doing different things. For example, consider a Salt Lake City clothing boutique known as The Stockist. The owners of this wonderful establishment have identified the need for clothing and are meeting that need. They are selling products their customers absolutely cannot live without.

In a broader sense however, what do consumers really need in terms of clothing? Do we need dozens of different outfits filling our closets from end-to-end? Do we need multiple sets of clothing for each season of the year? And what about micro seasons?


  • New Clothes on the Runway


What I find most fascinating about the fashion industry is the runway mindset. We have all seen truly hideous runway clothing that none of us would actually wear on a day-to-day basis. Such clothing is intended to show off a designer’s ability. And yet, the fact that designers are producing it is very telling about the fashion industry as a whole.

It seems to me that The Stockist is meeting a fundamental need for clothing. But the broader fashion industry has created an artificial need that otherwise wouldn’t exist. That artificial need is a constantly changing wardrobe that must keep up with the latest fashions.

Why does the runway exist? To pitch new designs to retailers. Those retailers then turn around and market the latest clothing to customers. Here’s the thing: people who overhaul their wardrobes with every runway season barely break in new clothes before it’s time to retire them. It is really kind of silly.


  • Some Clothing Lasts for Years


I don’t know about you, but I have some articles of clothing that have been in my closet for years. For example, I have a selection of shirts I inherited from a friend who overhauled his wardrobe when he changed jobs. He had already owned the shirts for several years. I have owned them for nearly a decade. They are now just beginning to wear out to the point of becoming unusable.

The point of relaying this story is to suggest that some clothing lasts for years – even with regular use. Those shirts in my closet haven’t been hanging dormant. I have worn them regularly. Each one is at least 10 years old. Each one has met my need for clothing; not one has met my need for fashion.

Therein lies the answer. I do not have a need for fashion. I couldn’t care less what goes down the runway every 3 to 4 months. Yet there is an entire segment of the population that does care. The fashion industry has created in them a need to overhaul their wardrobes on a regular basis. And once that need is created, designers are happy to meet it.

We all need clothing. We need it to keep warm and protect us from sun, rain, etc. But do we need fashion? Has the fashion industry created a need that otherwise wouldn’t exist? If this is the case, it’s okay. Consumers are free to spend their money as they choose. But it is at least worth considering the differences between our needs and wants.