This chapter provides an investigation of the following questions: why power passed from producers to retailers; how retailers utilize their dominance in the chain; and whether this imbalance of power may be found in all western clothing industries. To answer these questions, the chapter covers the following aspects of the German, UK, and US clothing retail sectors: their historical development and current structure, with a focus on the evolution of different retail channels; intensified competition and firms' responses of concentration and corporatization; the move to ‘private label’/store brands and the development of direct sourcing, i.e., sourcing without using domestic middleman firms; the strategy of increased market segmentation and the differing market positions, in interaction with consumption styles, adopted in each country; the development of ‘fast fashion’ and ‘just-in-time’ sourcing; and the internationalization of sales through foreign direct investment. The final section emphasises both the enduring divergences between national retail sectors and the differential degree of power retailers hold vis-à-vis domestic ‘manufacturers’ in each country but also points to some convergence tendencies.
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