New Clothes from Old Techniques: Restructuring and Flexibility in the US and UK Clothing Industries

Ian M. Aplin, Jonathan Winterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


With lagging productivity rates in key industrial sectors, many firms in the UK and the USA have struggled to remain competitive against low cost imports from newly industrialized countries. Structural readjustments by firms have involved downsizing and efforts to reorganize the labor process. Firms have defined the problem as one of production rigidities and have developed strategies designed to reshape the division of labor. That change is occurring is not in question; it is rather the precise nature and implications of that change, particularly its consequences for the role of labor. This paper argues that many firms have sought, and continue to seek, competitive viability through an amalgam of new technology merged with old work practices. Restructuring is occurring under the guide of enhancing flexibility, but the motives remain rooted in cost lowering, as opposed to product and process improvement, strategies. The enhanced economic uncertainty and sustained import penetration have not therefore led to new production paradigms, as many claim, but are merely reconfigurations of old ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-638
Number of pages24
JournalIndustrial and Corporate Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes


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