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Journal Article

Coordinating Transnational Futurework in Fashion Design


Hoppe,  Alexander
Wirtschaftssoziologie, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;
Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA;

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Hoppe, A. (2023). Coordinating Transnational Futurework in Fashion Design. Socio-Economic Review, 21(1), 243-265. doi:10.1093/ser/mwaa046.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-3493-2
Both quantitative and qualitative research has provided evidence of a fashion system with principled aesthetic transitions. Previous theories of coordination have been proposed at the level of collective behavior, but monopolistic competition at the industry level looms large. Designers and suppliers around the world have the difficult task of anticipating uncertain consumer demand. How are multiple layers of futurework coordinated through global value chains? Drawing on 11 months of ethnographic data from first-tier suppliers in India, I document the role of forecasting in buyer–supplier coordination. I describe the contents of forecasts and show how designers use organizational routines to balance competing requirements for conformity and differentiation. Most importantly, I argue that forecasting information is filtered through calculative spaces and the logic of uncertainty absorption. The consequences of transnational futurework resonate not only through finance and technological innovation, but through aesthetics and embodiment.