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Title: Fashion forecasting and selection process of womenswear retailers
Author: Schulz, S.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Looking at the working practices of designers, buyers and merchandisers this thesis attempts to explore the dynamics that govern high street womenswear retailers. By concentrating on the retailing rather than manufacturing of womenswear the thesis takes into account that the balance of power between clothing manufacturers and retailers has shifted - today the creative, i.e. design, capital within the fashion industry is in the hands of the retailers who dominate and direct fashion at the high street level. Broadly following production of culture and symbolic interactionist approaches to the culture industries, the thesis opens with an exploration of collective activity as an important dimension of the production of cultural artefacts. Attention is drawn to production of culture proponents' models of selection processes in culture industries, where cultural artefacts enter a set of gatekeeping or filtering stages that determine their acceptance or rejection. However, while these selection models provide significant insights into some of the dynamics that govern the production of culture, the non-conflictual, unidirectional portrayal of selection processes and the exclusion of consumption-related issues not only leaves important areas of investigation untouched, but distorts the actual working practices of culture industry practitioners. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is to open up the 'black box' of fashion production and provide an alternative model of selection processes through an empirical investigation of how fashion forecasting and garment selection are executed. Based on data from semi-structured interviews with designers, buyers and merchandisers it is suggested that selection processes in high street womenswear retailers can be divided into two distinct levels - forecasting and garment selection. Each level is characterised by (a) the occupational group that dominates it and (b) by a specific interplay between teamwork and conflict. It is proposed that the construction of a shared customer image among key players in the industry acts as an ordering principle which not only helps practitioners overcome differences in occupational outlooks, but which also directs their efforts towards the creation of garments that they feel will gratify their customers' taste. Practitioners' perceived customer image, therefore, plays a significant role in fashion industry forecasting and selection processes, because it influences the fashion production cycle at all levels. In addition, the thesis draws attention to variations in retailers' organisational set-up and shows how they influence the balance of power between key players and the competitive strategies companies adopt to survive in the market. These observations are grounded in a discussion of the transformation of Western economies from Fordism to post-Fordism, while also drawing on arguments regarding the co-existence and differential development of diverse fashion systems within the UK clothing industry since the mid-nineteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available