From Runway to Consumer: Socially Conscious Career Opportunities 

By Jacqueline M. Jenkins

October 15th, 2018

The $2.4 trillion global fashion sector is often cited for its abuses against the environment, poor wages, and for being the catalyst behind a buying culture that promotes excessive spending over responsible consumption. However, the fashion industry is also one of the largest sectors of the economy, a segment of commerce that is being completely transformed by the IoT (Internet of Things), and an often overlooked area of careers for young professionals that are looking to practice their social values to drive change. Due to the increasingly complex nature of global sourcing, production, and distribution, fashion supply chain management is poised to benefit from the tech and social media savviness of today’s young professionals. Additionally, the social conscious mindset of those entering the workforce brings innovative solutions to problems and opportunities due to the evolution of a digitally focused retailing environment. 

Throughout the fashion supply chain, there are emerging employment opportunities that align with the values of being socially responsible. Within the advanced textiles field, there is a need for materials scientists and designers to develop fabrics of the future that possess aesthetically pleasing, environmentally-friendly characteristics such as being biodegradable and self-repairing. From a manufacturing perspective, the concept of reshoring, the movement of production back to the market of origin, is causing a rise in the need for engineering talent capable of supporting robotic production facilities in local markets. For business management students, the use of artificial intelligence is a compliance game-changer that is enabling companies to apply analytics to support the monitoring of production practices throughout their entire supply chain. 

While the fashion supply continues to grow in complexity, there will be an ongoing need for talent focused on sustainability. To learn more about the various opportunities within this field, I would recommend that students research companies that promote their commitment to sustainable business practices. Check the job boards and news of these businesses to see where there might be future opportunities. Secondly, I would continue to follow the trends that are supporting the sustainable fashion movement. This insight will help those seeking employment to identify areas of future job growth. Most importantly, I encourage students to continue to maintain their passion for creating social impact by pursuing a career that leverages their talent while also fulfilling their personal values. 

Jacqueline_JenkinsAbout the Author 

Jacqueline M. Jenkins is the acting executive director of Strategic Planning and Innovation at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Prior to joining FIT, she was the dean of graduate studies at LIM College where she created the Global Fashion Supply Chain Management graduate degree. She co-authored a textbook, Fashion Supply Chain Management (Fairchild). Jacqueline also served as the program executive for the University of Pennsylvania Energy Efficiency Buildings Hub and the director for the Wharton Small Business Development Center. In addition to higher education, Jacqueline has extensive finance and entrepreneurial experience. Jacqueline graduated in 1996 with an MBA in finance from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. She earned her BA in Economics from Spelman College. She resides in Brooklyn, NY where she is an active member of the business of fashion ecosystem. 

To learn about Jacqueline’s most recent co-authored book, Fashion Supply Chain Management, that features industry interviews and case studies, please click 


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