Competitive Dynamics of Southern California's Clothing Industry
A general outline of the functional and spatial characteristics of the clothing industry in Southern California is sketched out. Two important trends are noted: (a) the increasing design- and knowledge-intensive structure of the industry and (b) the marked increase in offshore subcontracting by local manufacturers that has occurred in recent years. The predicaments and promises of this situation are explored. Will the industry simply continue to lose its employment base in the region? Will it succeed in making the transition to the status of a major world center of fashion? I argue that the Southern California clothing industry is potentially capable of rising to the latter challenge, though it remains strongly over-shadowed by the New York industry in terms of both fashion significance and commercial reach, and it also retains strong elements of its traditional underbelly of sweatshops. I further argue that considerable effort needs to be invested in building social infrastructures to reinforce current positive trends in the industry. Given the right kinds of private and public responses, I submit that Southern California is capable of becoming an international fashion center on a par with New York, Paris, London, or Milan.
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