Fashion Week Offering Discounts to Designers Who Manufacture and Source Locally and Domestically
“Fashion Week Los Angeles (FWLA) is offering fashion designers discounts to produce and source locally and domestically,” states FWLA Executive Producer Gio Ferrigno. “By encouraging domestic production and purchases, we seek to keep fashion revenue circulating in the Los Angeles basin.”
Whereas apparel manufacturing has declined over 85 percent nationally since 1990, Los Angeles’ apparel manufacturing grew 7.7 percent from 2012-2013. Combined Los Angeles and Orange County is the Nation’s largest apparel manufacturing hub accounting for one-fourth of all US apparel production.
In 2013-2014 the U.S. exported $5.8 Billion of apparel and imported a staggering $80 Billion in apparel. China now accounts for 41 percent of all apparel production globally.
“America has a massive import-export deficit. With so much money leaving the country, there’s little left to employ our workers, leading to outsourcing. The problem is cyclical,” states Ferrigno.
Resulting from Los Angeles designers’ greater likelihood than average to produce locally, one-third of the 18 Billion in apparel revenue trickled down to local workers in 2014. This is in contradiction to the national trend.
Los Angeles’ twin shipping ports make it an ideal place to conduct businesses where importing and exporting is the norm.
Also, “the accessibility of skilled labor, transportation, warehousing and great weather helps reduce some of the unnecessary challenges facing those brands based in New York,” states Ferrigno.
FWLA Fights to Reduce Income Disparity in the Fashion Industry
Los Angeles employs a quarter of all fashion designers nationally and is the number one apparel manufacturing hub in the country, employing over twice as many apparel manufacturers as New York City. This makes income disparities between the highest wage earners and the lowest wage earners in the industry of particular importance to the region.
The national median designer salary is $74,000 a year, forty percent higher than the average American’s salary. In comparison, the average apparel manufacturer makes substantially less than the average American at $34,000 a year. To put this in context, the average designer makes 2.7 times that of the average apparel manufacturer. This disparity is emphasized since there are eight and a half times as many apparel manufacturers than there are designers.
LA fares a bit better in the disparity due to Los Angeles’ minimum wage laws that bring up the average per hour salary of apparel manufacturers to 15 dollars from the national average of 11 dollars per hour. The average salary for designers in LA remains the same.
“My issue with income gaps in the fashion industry is not with the [wage] gap between designers and manufacturers. My issue is with the markup prices taken at different stages of the design and manufacturing process that lead for some to make exponentially more than others,” states Executive producer of Fashion Week Los Angeles, Christina Iannuzzi. “Fashion can be Marxist at times devaluing the lowest wage earners to the point of putting them in poverty. That I take issue with.”