Since the 1990s the fashion industry has reflected the issues generally arising in the manufacturing sector, namely rapid and deep structural changes, the development of new supply chain relationships, ICT impacts and increasing globalisation with the attendant issues of ethical sourcing, off‐shoring, new emerging markets and recessionary ripples. This paper focuses on one particular aspect of the fashion industry, namely the apparel sector, and in particular “fast fashion” to explore the issues arising for the SMEs in the supply chain.
The research adopts a qualitative methodology and is longitudinal in nature, spanning five years from August 2006. The first stage of the research is reported here, where a series of focussed interview scenarios were conducted over an 18‐month period. The sample of 12 SMEs was a convenience one, drawn from the 30 participants who took part in a business‐to‐business event in Leicester, a geographical location which acts as a microcosm of the apparel industry. Interviews were used to elicit narrative data about what was actually happening in these apparel supply chains.
The apparel supply chain has changed significantly due to recessionary ripples and structural changes. SMEs have had more success in managing the upstream rather than the downstream relationships and relationships between buyers and suppliers continue to be fractious. Innovation has occurred but is hampered by the relationships that persist. Culture has proved to be a key dimension.
There is a lack of research on supply chains, especially, apparel supply chains that focus on reality rather than best practice. The relationships that are exerted in the supply chain and the cultural aspects that influence them have also lacked academic focus.
The paper adds empirical data to the paucity of theoretical work in the area by the construction of a model that articulates the key factors (relationships, innovation and culture) that operate within cluster supply chains. It also identifies the unequal relationships and how SMEs devise strategies to cope or not, to some extent dependent on their culture.
Oxborrow, L. and Brindley, C. (2012), "Regional resilience in recessionary times: a case study of the East Midlands", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 40 No. 11, pp. 882-899. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590551211267629Download as .RIS
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