article A study published by the journal Industrial and Labor Relations Review found that rising temperatures have affected the work of fashion designers and designers’ shops in ways that have changed the way that garments are produced and sold.
“A major shift has occurred in the supply chain,” said Michael Deutsch, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Illinois and the lead author of the study.
“We now have an environment where there is a lot of uncertainty as to how the garment is going to be made, the quality of the garment will be compromised, the price of the product will go up and so forth,” he said.
“It’s an environment that creates a lot more uncertainty and a lot less cooperation between the designers and the retailers.”
Deutsch and his colleagues surveyed more than 2,200 fashion-focused stores across the United States, using a survey tool called the Brand Survey.
The survey was designed to capture the attitudes of fashion-centric retailers and consumers and the impact that these changes have had on their work and customer experiences.
“The majority of stores are very cooperative with their suppliers, with respect to how they manufacture garments, with regard to how much they pay for the materials, with regards to what they pay labor,” said Deutsch.
“In other words, they are making a decision to make the product that they want to sell.
The majority of those retailers are also pretty flexible in terms of what their prices are.”
In contrast, when it comes to designers’ apparel, the survey found that the companies that were the least cooperative with the suppliers of their garments were the ones that were selling the lowest-priced garments.
“This is a trend that is going on in many parts of the industry,” said Jodie B. Williams, a lecturer in organizational behavior and behavior change at the Wharton School of the University, who was not involved in the study but is a member of the research team.
“For many of the smaller companies, this has been a big factor in their inability to attract new suppliers.”
The study found that while there were more designers’ stores that were cooperative with suppliers, the trend was not uniform.
For instance, there were several smaller retailers that were more likely to be cooperative with factories and suppliers than larger companies.
And while most of the large companies were more cooperative with designers than the smaller ones, the difference in the number of large and small businesses was not significant.
“There’s a big difference between large and relatively small businesses,” said Williams.
“If you look at large retailers, they do have a lot to gain from making the transition to this cooperative model.”
The authors say that the changes that have been made to the industry have not gone unnoticed by consumers.
“As consumers become more aware of how cooperative the fashion industry is, they’re more inclined to buy a garment that is made by these large companies and less inclined to shop at small businesses that do not adhere to these kinds of policies,” said B. Deutsch in a statement.
“Consumers are increasingly paying attention to the fact that fashion retailers are not following the rules of the game and have no control over how the finished products they buy will be made.”
Deitz said that the study has several implications for designers and manufacturers.
For one, the findings highlight the need for designers to keep in touch with the larger retailers and to learn how to make better choices with suppliers.
For example, designers need to be more cognizant of the quality and the materials that they are using, said Williams, and they need to take more time to work with suppliers to find out how to avoid making the mistakes that have led to problems in the past.
“What I think this study shows is that there’s no substitute for getting involved with the retailers and being in close contact with the designers,” she said.
Williams said that it is important to continue to encourage designers to be open to new ideas and to explore the possibility of working with smaller, less-organized fashion shops to improve their quality and make the best decisions.
“Designers, even if they’re in small business, need to realize that they can still do great things with the resources they have,” she added.
“When they have a strong, cohesive team, they can actually make an impact on a brand, and it’s an impact that can have a positive impact on the entire fashion industry.”
This story has been updated to include a statement from Wharton.