The modern fashion industry is far from the artisan’s craft of a century ago. Multinational conglomerates employ cutting-edge technology and the latest designs in order to create the most profitable styles for the masses. These conglomerates also strive to deliver merchandise in the most timely manner possible. As such, the pace of fashion changes rapidly, but the fundamental purpose remains the same. Keeping an eye on the latest trends is essential to stay on top of the industry.
Modern fashion has benefited from the globalization of the economy. In the United States, luxury conglomerates bought up American businesses and made mass production a reality. Meanwhile, manufacturing moved to countries with cheaper labor. Computers have become indispensable tools in creating garments: they design, illustrate, laser cut, and replenish inventory automatically. Stores have become competition for designers, with flagships throughout the world. Even magazine editors and stylists are becoming designers and manufacturers.
In the late nineteenth century, French couture houses gained international recognition. Among these houses were Charles Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, Paquin, and Poiret. In America, clothing factories flooded the nation, notably New York City, with more than 18,000 people working in blouse manufacturing in 1900. These factories became the basis for the creation of modern apparel unions, such as the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which was born out of the merger of the Textile and Clothing Workers Union and Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.