New Challenges for Developing Country Suppliers in Global Clothing Chains: A Comparative European Perspective

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Through an analysis of clothing import patterns and sourcing practices of major clothing retailers in the United Kingdom, France, and Scandinavia, this paper uncovers salient differences between global value chains (GVCs) serving European clothing markets. It highlights entry barriers for developing country suppliers into the sourcing networks of UK retailers and relates these to corporate financialization in the United Kingdom. Although suppliers’ entry and industrial upgrading remain easier in mainland European sourcing networks, the maturation of GVCs challenges classical “industrial upgrading” paradigms and the role of the clothing sector as a stepping stone in the industrialization of developing countries.