The apparel industry has acted as a microcosm of global industrial change, exemplified by changes in structure, relationships and technologies. The purpose of this paper is to identify the risk drivers, the changing supply strategies and the relationships suppliers are developing or exiting from, notably because of the increasing power of retailers in the fast fashion sector.
The research adopts a qualitative, case study methodology of the Leicester (UK) based suppliers who operate in the fast fashion market.
Rich narrative data shows that the apparel supply chain has changed. The small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) have had more success in managing the upstream rather than the downstream, supported by their move towards a more design driven system. This willingness has been motivated by their wish to “own” the relationship with the buyer but this has not always resulted in greater power or returns and relationships have continued to be fractious.
There is a lack of research on supply chains, especially, apparel supply chains that focus on reality rather than best practice. This paper addresses the power relationships that are exerted in the supply chain and the cultural aspects that influence them, which have hitherto lacked academic focus.
Adds empirical data to the theoretical work in the area, specifically, the shape of SME supply chains and the nature of risk in supplying fast fashion. It identifies the unequal power base of the supply chain and SMEs’ strategies for coping, or not, to some extent dependent on their culture.
Oxborrow, L. and Brindley, C. (2014), "Disintermediation in the apparel supply chain", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 252-268. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-10-2011-0071Download as .RIS
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