The fashion apparel business is traditionally characterised by intense competition and short product life cycles. Recent marketing literature has also focused on the increasing importance of retailing. Retailers are beginning to assume a central role in the configuration of supplier
networks, being operators who act globally either in terms of market seeking or resource seeking. At this stage a set of problems emerge. In particular, we focus on buyer-seller relationship due to the rise in new formulas in clothing retailing with production management models differing from
the traditional systems. These new trends seem to have a significant impact on the upstream relation in the supply chain, due to vertical integration in some industrial functions (designing, sourcing, quality control) by retailers. For this reason, the paper investigates how retailers manage
their relations upstream in the supply chain, focusing on the balance expressed in terms of alternatives between lean/agile sourcing strategies, local/overseas suppliers and product/range complexity.