The World Wide thread
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 04:07
Beyond the Seven jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch tops and other retailed items lies a powerful component upon which the whole apparel industry depends - the manufacturer.
The Fashion International Business Education Response Journal, or FIBER, is operated by the university's department of fashion and apparel studies. The project is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education and focuses on the global apparel trade industry. With over 2,200 users from 12 countries, the purpose of the online journal is to enhance awareness of the apparel industry while examining the process behind the manufacturing.
Marsha Dickson, department chairperson and professor in the department of fashion and apparel studies, is the co-project director. She says the site is meant to augment understanding of international business.
"It will help bridge the knowledge between the university and the rest of the trade industry," Dickson says. "The project is meant to create more international learning in the classroom."
Project director and Editor Hye-Shin Kim says the goal of the site is to bring various facets of information to the readers.
"The goal is to provide apparel manufacturing and retailing industry professionals and interested stakeholders with current news, research and insights into the globalization of the industry," Kim states in an e-mail message.
Dickson says FIBER is not limited to professionals though. Many research journals are written in technical terms because they are geared toward readers who are graduate students or work in business. The bi-annual FIBER journal targets all kinds of readers who are interested in learning about the business of the apparel industry.
"We try to put the research in light terms so everyone can understand it and attract more readers," she says.
FIBER's current theme focuses on specific countries. Kim says the site will focus on five countries who are active players in the business.
"The apparel industry is truly global in nature," she says. "Most of the apparel we wear are manufactured outside of the U.S., so there is a need to understand the dynamics of the fashion industry within a global context."
Dickson says the members of the team eventually want to create seminars on the various countries and industries to be posted on the site. Thailand is the main feature in FIBER's latest issue, including interviews with people like the director general of Thailand's department of industrial promotion and a former U.S. ambassador to Thailand.
She says the countries to be featured in future editions of the journal are China, Italy and India.
"The countries all represent different areas of the industry," Dickson says. "China is the next country to be featured on the journal and its focus is on the mass market, whereas Italy focuses more on a consumer market because of its production of high-end goods."
George Irvine, the managing editor and project manager of the site, says the journal is a unique publication due to its in-depth study of the global supply chain.
Irvine is working to create non-credit certificates for the department to make its studies accessible for a wider audience. He says both of these ideas will help build the department greatly.
"The journal allows us to create international modules, which are accessible for everyone," Irvine says.
While he was based in Washington, D.C., Irvine traveled to Thailand to work on the financial recovery after the country's economic crisis in the mid '90s. He says he was the one who pulled together all the information for the journal's focus on Thailand.
"I traveled to Bangkok for many years to help bring a U.S. perspective to the business markets," Irvine says. "It was during those times where I made several contacts that are featured in interviews on the Web site."
He says FIBER also allowed the university to build a strong partnership with various universities in Thailand.
Dickson says the team submitted a proposal for the journal in spring 2007. The project was initially planned a year-and-a-half before they sent their proposal to the business and international education section of the U.S. Department of Education. Their grant required industry partners, so they received support from the Delaware World Trade Organization and a university partnership in Thailand.
Irvine says without the team's hard work, the success of the site would not be possible.
"We've had a great team effort, and we're seeing the power of FIBER in communication and have had good feedback from users," he says.
Dickson says she hopes to see the site grow in the future and continue to put emphasis on education about international businesses.
"Our goal is to sustain the site beyond the grant money," she says. "We want to spread the word about Delaware and convey the strengths of our department."