Is the Fashion Industry a Giant Monopoly?


A recent report on the state of fashion in 2019 conducted by McKinsey & Company revealed that only 20% of the 500 companies examined made 128% of the industry’s total profit in 2017. 97% of that profit came from just 20 companies, including “super winners” like Hermès, H&M, and Inditex (the parent company of Zara). McKinsey noted that laser-focus on brand building and efficiency were key ingredients to these companies’ successes. According to current predictions, this mix of high earners from the discount, fast-fashion, and luxury markets is set to continue in the new year. Even so, the report is raising eyebrows about the lack of middle ground in the fashion industry—in other words, the successes of high and low-end brands are squeezing out the middle ground, the bottom 20% of which saw a profit loss of 34% last year. While fashion journalists ponder the implications of this trajectory, it is also difficult to ignore another issue with McKinsey’s “winner’s circle”: Of the top 20 brands, only 1, Ross Stores, had a female CEO, making up .05%. This statistic speaks volumes about the lack of women in the corner suites of corporate fashion and begs the question of when self-proclaimed “progressive” leaders like Nike or Adidas will tap a woman to take the helm.

For Further Reading

Gender isn’t the only obvious disparity in fashion. According to this article from Quartz, top industry CEOs earn a garment worker’s lifetime pay in just four days.


Discussion Question

Why do you think women have been so excluded from leadership roles in corporate fashion—especially because they are such obvious leaders on the creative side?


Action Item

Keep asking questions! Whether it’s about fashion or women’s sports and everything in between, don’t swallow the thoughts that tell you something or someone is missing from the playing field.

Read more on Quartz| Image: Unsplash