“Changing Landscapes but Ingrained Power Relations? The Green Promise of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the (Un)sustainability of the Fashion Industry, and theCentral-Eastern European Production Background”, Emese Dobos (IWE CERS, Hungary)

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the spotlight on the inequalities and the vulnerability of the global supply chains. It showed the serious dependency and the asymmetrical power relations among the stakeholders of the fashion industry. The relocation tendencies – as fashion brands are trying to break up with Asia and move production closer – have already started, and the pandemic can give a boost to it. The Central-Eastern European region can be a possible destination. The shorter supply chains are not just a tool for resilience but are told to serve sustainability as well. My hypothesis is that even though the geography of fashion industry is changing, power relations are not, and the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has even increased dependency among the different players. Power relations are important among the region’s production and the clients if relocation is to work out, as there is need for inclusive, fair, and decent employment, which is rarely guaranteed by fashion brands. Without it, sustainability cannot be achieved. In this paper, I focus on the examination of socio-economic processes in contemporary fashion such as the relocation tendencies and the power relations among the stakeholders, mainly fashion brands and production companies as subcontractors of the fashion industry. Especially, I examine profit and risk as factors within the relations. The critical essay uses literature review and document analysis to investigate a possible change in the current role of power relations and to examine the hypothesis

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