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Review of the apparel sector

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The apparel industry is one of the world's largest employers with over eight million workers globally (Sajhau 2000). It is often recognised as a stepping-stone to industrialisation as garments may initially be produced in the home and then, with the influx of minimal capital, produced in factories. Apparel production is labour-intensive, requiring few skills, and those that are required can be learned on the job. The industry is considered low-tech, as technological advancements have come to the industry slowly, primarily by way of specific aspects of production, such as computer-assisted design, computer-assisted grading and marking, and computerised cutting. For this reason, apparel production may be found in developed and developing economies alike. Generally, as economies become more industrialised and wage pressures increase the apparel industry declines in importance and countries focus on developing more sophisticated industries such as electronics, computers and automobiles. Still, given the employment and economic gains provided by a vibrant apparel industry, organised labour and domestic manufacturers seek to maintain a domestic hold on the industry, mainly by adopting a protective system of tariffs and quotas.

Keywords: apparel; review; sector

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 8, 2004

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