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Evolution of the Los Angeles County apparel industry

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to analyze business patterns in the Los Angeles County apparel industry, with the primary focus being globalization, trade policy and offshore sourcing, to establish how trade policy may affect small or mid-size apparel manufacturers. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The method was a qualitative analysis of telephone interviews with apparel firms and associations in Los Angeles County. In total, 25 executives were interviewed. Analysis of the interviews enabled the investigation of the impacts of trade policy on apparel manufacturers and afforded an understanding of the viability of transitioning to a capital- and technology-intensive industry. Findings ‐ The Los Angeles County apparel industry can succeed with both high and low value-added activities. This combination will allow its infrastructure to survive while simultaneously growing and evolving in design and marketing. Research limitations/implications ‐ The apparel industry in Los Angeles County has historically been made up of immigrant workers, labor-intensive production activities and low cost apparel products. Continued analysis of the industry concerning possible continued decline is warranted. Practical implications ‐ The Los Angeles County apparel industry is re-positioning to become increasingly design- and marketing-intensive, outsourcing many low value-added activities to offshore contractors. Integration of the data may provide insight into ways in which trade policy changes alter offshore sourcing practices in Los Angeles County. Originality/value ‐ This study is a benchmark for the Los Angeles County apparel industry to measure its evolution. The replication of this research in subsequent years will provide a timely profile of a dynamic industry.
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Keywords: Garment industry; Globalization; Immigrants; Outsourcing; Pay; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-05-09

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