However it is one that is less capable of capturing the benefits of enhanced

However it is one that is less capable of capturing

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the demands of more price-sensitive and fashion-conscious consumers. However, it is one that is less capable of capturing the benefits of enhanced design; instead, focusing upon gaining flexibility and quick response plus relentless attention to cost lowering through outsourcing. Their market positioning is predicated upon large volume sales, with economies of scale and scope derived from vertically-disintegrated sourcing. However, such a strategy always remains vulnerable to other low-cost manufacturers, which likewise are exploiting the logistical possibilities of low-cost labour — the proverbial race to the bottom. And it is more exposed to fickle consumer behaviour as a result of not always providing items of the requisite ‘trendiness’. Such firms in this iteration of the fast fashion model are the beneficiaries of new trade regimes and the proliferation of suppliers in countries with ever-lower labour costs where there is an institutional commitment to apparel and textile production as the basis for economic growth. Unfortunately, such settings have revived questions over workplace practices and health and safety issues that continue to periodically surface in an industry renowned for sweatshops and a broad array of illegal work practices. The recent disasters in Bangladesh and Cambodia have merely reinforced Western views that manufacturing in such settings is fraught with occupational danger, which has added to the ongoing debate about Western consumers’ duplicity in the whole process (Cairns & Roberts, 2007). One can see from the above discussion just how fast fashion has become institu- tionalized but as a differentiated system that meets varied fashion demands and ena- bles key firms to leverage their various capabilities in controlling a restructured GCC.
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261 GLOBAL COMMODITY CHAINS AND FAST FASHION This study has explored the extent to which the greatest success from these changes accrues to firms that integrate design, manufacturing and retailing to provide inex- pensive but fashion-forward clothes. Clearly, the use of two examples to illustrate these trends prevents broader generalization. But it is hoped that shifting the focus of analysis from the well-documented supply-side logistical innovations to a more coherent understanding of the role of consumers in the demand for fashionable products can provide a more comprehensive assessment of the overall trends. In turn, this requires further study of consumer behaviour, particularly how demographic segments respond to product placement and socio-economic changes shape the pro- pensity to consume. The interplay between media influences and general social trends (the ubiquity of ‘herding’ behaviour amongst younger consumers in relation to what they wear) fosters tensions and a certain predictability in buying patterns.
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