Fashion Design Entrepreneurs: A Case Study

Fashion Design Entrepreneurs: A Case Study

Clara Eloïse Fernandes (University of Beira Interior, Portugal), Maria José Madeira (University of Beira Interior, Portugal) and Maria Madalena Pereira (University of Beira Interior, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7937-3.ch011
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The fashion industry is experiencing a new dynamic as many professionals have decided to take the risk to create fashion-related businesses. As universities and private schools provide fashion courses, many paths can be taken by graduates in this vast and challenging industry, including careers as fashion design entrepreneurs. However, the lack of information regarding networking and business-creation can be a hard wall to come across, as fashion designers are not prepared in that sense by higher-education courses. Fashion education is still very focused on hard skills, forgetting to teach students to be pro-active and forward-thinkers; yet a new generation of fashion designers has transformed past experiences and professional vision to become entrepreneurs. This chapter provides results obtained through interviews of these fashion entrepreneurs in Portugal, as well as other countries around the globe. This work observes this ever-changing industry and suggests the rise of a new entrepreneurial reality in fashion design, as well as the multi-disciplinary people who are changing it.
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The textile and clothing industry experienced many changes in the last few years. After the international crisis that stroke hard the economy of many countries, the catastrophe has been the catalyst for unemployment and austerity as its consequence. However, countries like Portugal are showing a real evolution since those dark times. The textile industry of Portugal has ended the year 2016 with 5063 million euros in exportations, a number that had not been reached since the beginning of the century (Felismino, 2017). Thus, encouraging and pushing the Portuguese textile and clothing industry further into former previsions made by the director of ATP (Textile and clothing industry association), Paulo Vaz. Such encouraging numbers are also going towards ATP's recent investment and plan to gain even more visibility and promote a “Made in Portugal” strategy (Portugal Têxtil, 2016).

Portugal has also experienced a significant augmentation in terms of higher-education demand from students. Fields like fashion, apparel, and textile design have seen the number of entering students increase in their higher-education courses, considering years 2009/2010 in comparison to 2015/2016 (DGES, 2010; DGES, 2016).

Entrepreneurship has also been unquestionably one of the most used words in the past few years, in Portugal and internationally. In Portugal, such affirmation can be confirmed through the amount of entrepreneurial models and incentives proposed and created, most of the times linked to regulatory proposals made to emphasize such ventures (IAPMEI, ANJE etc.).

More generally, students coming from various fields related to creative arts may benefit significantly from an entrepreneurial mindset, as innovation and multidisciplinary contents are part as these fields as they are part of entrepreneurship itself and can very well lead to a variety of jobs (European Commission, 2008). On the other side, the fashion design field has come to adopt entrepreneurship in another way for the past few years, in the sense that it can be considered that some individuals have always created their businesses in the field, even if entrepreneurship cannot be reduced to such definition.

As governmental entities have understood the importance of entrepreneurship for the future, many studies are also being made to determine whether or not entrepreneurship education can be the engine for a new generation of entrepreneurs (Mwasalwiba, 2012; European Commission, 2008; European Commission 2013; GEM, 2016; GEM, 2017).

For Thomas Friedman, editorialist at The New York Times, paradigms have changed, and generation used to the reality of finding a position after graduation are now in need to create their way into the job market by becoming self-employed, in comparison to the previous generation that “had it easy” (Friedman, 2013). In Portugal, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lead the numbers, generating low rates of employment at the time (Schiemann, 2006). As the socio-economic frame in which we are inserted has come to create an impulse and evidence the necessity to create alternatives to traditional jobs or, when they do not exist, created through new businesses, entrepreneurship can become a solution (Carvalho & González, 2006).

According to the European Commission 2008 report on entrepreneurship education, up to 20% of students who participate in an entrepreneurship education program in secondary school will later start their own company. However, as the primary objective of this investigation aims to understand entrepreneurship as a potential solution for young fashion designers, entrepreneurship education will be approached in the higher education environment.

Furthermore, by exploring entrepreneurship in the fashion design field, this chapter has for goals, firstly, to understand what specific skills and attitudes young fashion designers lack when it comes to creating their venture in the industry and finally, secondly, to understand who these new fashion design entrepreneurs are as well as their main difficulties, and thirdly, an exploration of existing solutions aiming to help fashion design entrepreneurs will be made as well as a search for answers that could be game-changing.

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