Image - QMUL logo and link to QMUL home page Image - divider Image - divider
Geography > Global Apparel Research Programme Manufacturing London: Globalization and Industrial Upgrading in the Metropolitan Clothing Sector
In this area :
 The Research Issues
 Geographical Consequences of the End of Quota Constrained Trade
 Reconfiguring Economies
 Manufacturing London

Manufacturing London: Globalization and Industrial Upgrading in the Metropolitan Clothing Sector

Project director: Professor Adrian Smith, Department of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London

Funded by: The British Academy

Is a nationally and globally competitive clothing manufacturing sector possible in a high-cost, global city location?

This project aims to examine the extent to which a competitive clothing manufacturing sector is possible in London.

The project examines:

  • the types of restructuring occurring in London’s clothing industry
  • the kinds of strategies that manufacturers and contractors are adopting to cope with the pressures of globalization and liberalization
  • the impacts that these changes are having on employees in the sector
  • the types of policy and institutional structures emerging to cope with these changes


London is a key centre in the United Kingdom’s fashion and clothing industry. Like much of the industry over the last ten years, however, London’s clothing manufacturers and contractors have faced enormous competitive pressure from low-cost producers in East-Central Europe, North Africa, and Asia. This competitive pressure has been heightened by the continued liberalization of the global trade regime under the World Trade Organization and the internationalization of key U.K. retailers’ supply chains. One consequence of these competitive challenges has been the closure of firms and the loss of employment. Employment loss in the sector is significant not only in its own terms, but also because much of the industry in London is concentrated in economically depressed areas of the city, many of which also contain significant ethnic minority populations which contribute both labour and management to many clothing firms. The decline of employment therefore presents enormous challenges to maintaining social inclusion.

This project examines the kinds of strategic responses that are emerging in the sector. It builds upon earlier and on-going research by Professor Smith on the development of the East European clothing sector and the liberalization of the European clothing trade regime.

Professor Adrian Smith
Department of Geography
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7822 7844
Fax: +44 (0)20 8981 6276

by Edward Oliver. © Queen Mary, University of London 2007
Department of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8200, Fax: +44 (0)20 8981 6276