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Since writing a blog, “Worldwide Popularity of Streetwear Ascending,” in December of 2017, the global streetwear market and culture has continued to rise in popularity.  Beginning as a niche market that originated mainly within skateboarding and inner-city communities, the streetwear brand and aesthetic has become a mainstream influence that reaches star athletes and world-famous actors.  With appeal centered especially in Asia and the United States, streetwear captures two of the world’s largest audiences and is now rivaling the status of luxury brands like Italy’s Gucci and France’s Louis Vuitton.

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Socks have long been an important clothing item to society, dating back to around the eighth century.  Today, socks are mass produced around the world and are an essential item in many peoples’ wardrobe.  From athletic, to dress, to casual, there are now a variety of types of socks that are catered to each individual’s occasion and a plethora of patterns and colors exist within these categories.  Whether functioning as an outfit essential, stylish accent piece, or just to keep feet warm or cool, socks have displayed abundant uses across countries.

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Watches have long been a staple accessory for both men and women across the globe, worn as both a fashionable piece to add to an outfit and a useful tool for keeping track of the time of day.  The additional value watches create as a generational keepsake, and their tendency to be an item that can hold its value over many years makes watches favorable investments or gifts.  With a variety of options from low to high price ranges, sport to luxury watches that feature varying materials, and newly popular smartwatches, the global watch market continues to do well despite the disruption that smartphones and similar technologies have caused.

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A collaboration between Supreme, a top-tier streetwear brand, and Louis Vuitton, a high-end fashion company, has produced a hoodie that costs upwards of $7 thousand.  Another collaboration between Supreme and The North Face, a winter outerwear company, gave way to a $600 backpack.  So what’s causing this uptick in prices for everyday items?  Streetwear—the casual clothing of a style worn especially by members of various urban youth subcultures—is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, with an estimated value of $309 billion.

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This is part five of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

Traditionally, manufacturing and resource processing has been done in a factory setting with labor needs relying on human capital. Labor trends tend to coincide with factors like wages, working conditions, and more recently, technology. So far, this series has looked at the evolution of the industry in an international context, starting with its role in the formation of the first international commercial highway. Textile production continued as an international industry into the 18th century. The Industrial revolution brought technological advances like the spinning jenny and cotton gin, marking the first instances of machines making their way into production. Next, we looked at labor conditions throughout the industry—specifically the working conditions in developed and developing countries. As we look toward the future of labor, advancements in the textile industry will continue to have international ramifications.

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This is part four of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The textile industry is one of the largest economic markets in the world, generating $450 billion and employing over 25 million people across the globe.   It’s estimated that over 120 billion pounds of textiles are made each year, a number that is ever-increasing because of constant high consumer demand.  Specifically, cotton consumption rates feature all-time highs, with an annual demand of over 120 million tons.

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This is part two of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The textile industry has been shaping international business and cultural trends for thousands of years. In fact, ancient Chinese silk was one of the catalysts for the formation of the world’s first international commercial highway. The Silk Road, or Silk Route, was an ancient network of trade routes spanning from China through India and Central Asia. Ultimately, these routes connected two of the greatest and powerful ancient empires, the Chinese and the Romans.

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This is part one of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The textile and apparel industry is one of the most popular in the world.  Like most other industries the textile industry has evolved over time.  The evolution of the textile industry is one of the most interesting industries to examine.  One can trace the origins of the textile industry back to prehistoric times.  It is estimated by anthropologists that humans began wearing clothes somewhere between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago. Since this time the textile industry has been evolving.  The earliest trade hubs of textiles can be found in ancient China, Turkey, and India.  All of these regions can be found along the Silk Road; for more information on textile trade along the Silk Road be sure to read tomorrow’s blog.

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The sneaker industry is becoming a new fad in today’s society, and led by sportswear behemoths Nike and Adidas, is transforming the market into one of the world’s most profitable and demanding sectors.  Propelled by the resurgence of Adidas footwear in popular models like the “Ultra boost,” “NMD,” and rapper Kanye West’s coveted creation, the “Yeezy,” and the continued success of Nike in models such as the “Air Jordan” and “Air Max,” consumers are lining up to purchase sneakers more than ever.  One way producers are ensuring the continued success of their products is by making purposely small amounts of their sneakers in order to create an atmosphere of excitement and exclusiveness that buyers aim to obtain.  This then allows the producers to release the same shoe in larger quantities at a later date—a restock—and gain high sales rates, making their profit margins even larger.  Transparency Market Research expects the world sneaker market to be worth $220.2 billion by 2020.

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In the last part of this week's series on cash crops, we explore the top two African cash crops.

Africa has long been rich in natural resources, consistently providing other nations with opportunities to obtain its plentiful supply of cotton and cocoa—two of the world’s most important cash crops.  According to Merriam-Webster, a cash crop is “a readily salable crop (such as cotton or tobacco) produced or gathered primarily for market.”  These crops aim to provide a sustainable way of life for farmers across the continent and are a major reason much of the world’s nations were and still are interested in exploring and investing in Africa.

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The U.S. retail industry has been experiencing a changing landscape in recent years due to the closing of numerous big-name, brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country. Major apparel retailers such as Sears, Kmart, Macy’s, and J.C. Penney announced the closures of several stores this year while BCBG Max Azria, American Apparel, Payless Inc., and Gymboree have all filed for bankruptcy. Earlier, this month, a Credit Suisse report predicted that 20 to 25% of U.S. shopping malls will close down in the next five years, and 8,640 stores will close by the end of the year.

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The fifth Copenhagen Fashion Summit took place on Thursday, May 11 to address sustainable development in the fashion industry. Influential representatives from apparel and textiles and retail companies spoke at the event, including the chairman of the board and interim CEO of Tiffany & Co, the President of Global Sourcing at Target, the CFO of Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH, and the head of sustainability at H&M. Eva Kruse, the CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) explained how “today's linear economic model, which sends too many clothes to landfills and incinerators, is simply not sustainable.” She called on all retail and fashion companies to support a circular fashion system and sign the Summit’s Call to Action.

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With an Internet penetration rate of 12.6%, investors looking to diversify their portfolio are currently appraising India’s e-commerce market for opportunities with exponential dividends. According to the technology research firm Gartner, India’s e-commerce industry is poised to grow 70% at the end of this year, with revenues crossing $6 billion. This will make it one of the fastest developing segments in Asia alone. Ranging from laptops to mobile phones to tablets, it is the pervasive use multi-platform technology for online retail that has catalyzed this boom.  Current estimates predict that within the next five years, the sector will quadruple in size to $43 billion. But how can sustainable, organic growth be cultivated in an ever-changing digital marketplace?

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When out shopping and buying clothes and other apparel merchandise, a lot of people forget how far a product has come.  The supply chains of the apparel and textile industry have been under a lot of scrutiny and are in need of change.  Whether this change is for the rights and conditions of workers or to accommodate the ever changing online market, current conditions will not last much longer.

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Cotton prices have recently reached record highs and have begun to cause some clothing retailers problems. Many European clothing stores import their cotton from various countries in Asia, so they are often at the mercy of their suppliers. China and India are two of the top producers of cotton in the world, and they have recently undergone some industry changes that may lead to lower profit margins for their European buyers.

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Carpet sales have been the center of Nepal’s exports for years (up to 1/3 of total exports), but recently sales have been on a steep decline. Many carpet firms in Nepal have gone under due to the extreme decline. There was once over 3,000 in operation but now only around 600 remain. While there are still hundreds of carpet companies in Nepal, they say that they will need help from the government in order to stay on top of this global market.

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Recently, the European Union signed the largest aid deal ever with Mauritius (93 million Euros, to be exact). The aim of the package is to serve as a means to social and economic reform for the island nation. The timing of the deal couldn’t have been better. Only three days earlier, Mauritius’s Minister of Education and Human Resources expressed his nation’s desire to expand and modernize its textile industry. What implications might these events have on current and potential investors, and the textile industry as a whole?

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Tokyo, Japan is famous for the outrageous fashion designs that are found not only in expensive boutiques, but all over the streets as well. The Harajuku street styles are known for being extremely unique and inspire fashion designers all over the world. For years these distinctive looks have sparked global trends, but many Japanese designers still have not taken advantage of their designs’ popularity.

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As it gets colder outside and we head into turtleneck and snow pant season, it’s a good time to start thinking about what you will get your loved ones for the holidays. Many retailers are preparing for the rush of shoppers, but the suffering economy is kind of raining on their parade. The economic downturn is affecting people all over the globe. In Mongolia, factory workers were ready for the demand of their stylish and cozy cashmere sweaters, but are finding that the demand is not what it used to be.

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In a small village in Italy, one entrepreneur decided to start a business in an unusual location - a castle. With workers not having to clock in, the atmosphere is quite different than other typical factories. Brunello Cucinello's cashmere factory has been extremely successful. The full story can be found in a video from BBC NEWS.

It is surprising to many how well the business is doing because of the untraditional way it is run. Is it possible for other businesses to adopt similar working conditions and be this successful?