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Results of the shemakes fashion and textile future survey

Profile picture for user Alexandra Korey
by Alexandra Korey

Earlier this spring, we launched a survey in honour of the Year of Youth. In the totally anonymous "shemakes fashion and textile future survey", we asked young people entering the textile and fashion industry about their hopes and fears regarding the work world. Do you want to know the results?

Survey completion

Most of the answers were received right after the survey launched in March 2022. We had 88 respondents but of these 52 were complete, and some were probably our test answers, so we can assume about 60 responses.

Who answered the survey?

Respondents were primarily female (86%) with non binary at 6% and male at 4% and 94% split in three age groups 20-24 (21%), 25-29 (33%) and 30+ (40%).  Of these, 75% are already connected with the industry, whether full or part time (47%) or studying in this industry (28%).

What area of the T&C industry to people want to work in?

We asked survey respondents to tell us which activities and sectors of the T&C industry were they most interested in working in. In terms of activity: three activities are most desirable: Design (36%) comes before Research (13%) and Production or fabrication (13%). 17% of respondents chose “other” and we asked them to specify attractive sectors; some interesting things were written in such as upcycling and second hand clothing, mending and personalization, embroidery on finished products, custom tailoring, buying (for new products), new technologies, as well as general purpose education.

We asked what fields people hoped to work in and altogether, we can notice that the upstream part of the value chain makes up 56% of the desired area of activity (fibers 10%, textiles & fabrics 46%), which is given greater preference versus the downstream part of the value chain at 31% (Clothes & garments 21%, brands 10%). This is coherent with the activities described as desirables above.

What can women bring to the industry?

We asked respondents “what do you think you could bring to this sector” and the answers indicate that the mostly female respondents feel they have a lot to offer! We’ve grouped the answers in a few areas:

  • Fibers & Materials: knowledge, interest in textile and all materials in general (including sustainable materials on one hand and composites on the other hand), interest for old fibers (to be re-discovered)
  • Environmental print  reduction of waste (up to zero waste), concern for environment (eco-friendly processes, fight against pollution), 
  • Re-use & Upcycling  second-hand - vintage - own closet items, repair & mending, upcycling and reconstruction design, by hand - old techniques rejuvenated or by digitizing the alteration process
  • Creativity & Innovation: in design, in techniques (colours, embroidery, hand-knitting), in technicity (handwork and tech skills), in process (teamwork, experiments & tests), in concepts (rigor of thoughts)… from grassroots, from vision & perspectives (experience, open-mindedness)
  • Curiosity, motivation, passion (sometimes associated with youth)
  • Business support: strategy, investment, innovation support 
  • Gender equality


What challenges do women face?

The perception of skills and contributions is balanced out with the perceptions of certain limitations or challenges. Where do these limitations come from?

  1. Limitations come from within: being a woman, the glass ceiling, shyness, lack of self-esteem, few jobs that are underpaid and not clearly defined, having to choose between family & career, caution in launching a new business (little guarantee of success), lonely work (freelancer, self-employed), little access to resources, not enough tech skills, not enough business skills (marketing, sales, finance), difficulty to find support for investments.
  2. Limitations may come from the industry in general (note that this doesn’t apply so much to the luxury category): mass production, little recognition of the value of production, over-consumption, low prices, intense competition, low creativity, traditional industry with no real space for inventing new avenues based on tech and/or on traditions, and the sexualizing of clothes for both women and children.
  3. Limitations from the Broader context: war, pandemic, climate crisis, waste and the known impact of T&C on planet and society were listed.

Some 48% of our respondents believe that the textile industry is already innovative, but a solid 90% believe that the sector could do more! Should this innovation come from women? 50% don’t seem to care: gender may not be perceived as relevant, but simply the need for the industry to evolve.