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What Does ‘Fast Fashion’ Mean for Workers? Apparel Production in Morocco and Romania

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Towards Better Work

Part of the book series: Advances in Labour Studies ((AILS))

Abstract

The expansion of organizationally fragmented and geographically dispersed global production networks (GPNs) has been an important source of employment generation in many developing and transition countries over the past decades. However, the quality of employment generated in these GPNs is often characterized by a high degree of flexibility, uncertainty and precariousness. These employment quality characteristics may be specifically relevant in the increasingly important fast fashion segment of the apparel industry. At the heart of the fast fashion strategy lies a business model based on increased variety, flexibility and permanently shrinking product life cycles that require bringing new products to markets at an increasing pace and in shorter time spans. This implies not only increased organizational flexibility and shrinking lead times for supplier firms but also delivering high quality apparel items at low cost. In this context, supplier firms may struggle to accommodate potentially conflicting requirements and may pass on these pressures in the form of expanded and flexible work hours, intensified production processes and delayed wage payments to their workforce. These pressures may be particularly intense for regional suppliers located in countries in geographic proximity to the key end markets of the EU-15, the United States and Japan that derive their competitive advantage from being integrated into the fast fashion segment of apparel GPNs.

The authors thank Stephanie Barrientos, John Pickles and participants at the 2011 Better Work Conference ‘Workers, Businesses and Government: Understanding Labour Compliance in Global Supply Chains’ for comments on an earlier version of the chapter. The views expressed in the chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of their institutional affiliations.

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Plank, L., Rossi, A., Staritz, C. (2014). What Does ‘Fast Fashion’ Mean for Workers? Apparel Production in Morocco and Romania. In: Rossi, A., Luinstra, A., Pickles, J. (eds) Towards Better Work. Advances in Labour Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137377548_6

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