Structure of the Garment Industry

Structure of the Apparel Industry
Sanjana Islam Eva
Dept. of Fashion Design
KCC Women’s College
(Affiliated by Khulna University),
Khulna, Bangladesh

Throughout its long history, the garment industry has always been characterized by change and variety, but never so much as today. During the past three decades or so this situation has undergone a complete turn-around and now the reverse is true.

Today, fashion changes are dramatic and frequent; as a result the clothing procedure has to reconcile the conflicting requirements of the market and of his manufacturing facilities in order to stay in business.

The basic needs of the market are:
  1. Garments with up-to-date fashion appeal;
  2. Low forward commitments in order to leave open options to exploit sudden demands during the season;
  3. Competitive prices;
  4. Acceptable quality standards;
  5. Quick response and short delivery times.
But to produce goods efficiently and profitably, the producer requires:
  1. A minimum of style and cloth variety;
  2. Large orders, well in advance of delivery dates;
  3. Adequate time for planning;
  4. Time to develop garment and method engineering for price sensitive and other critical types of merchandise;
  5. Reasonable level of work in progress.
The key to optimizing this conflict of interest’s lies in the ability of management to maximize the productivity of available resources. This can only be achieved by increasing the effectiveness of the operational performance levels of every department within the company; these performance levels determine success or failure.


The structure of the clothing industry can be in different sectors, an industry is a huge systematic program which cannot explain in a short word, but we can explain the basic structural points of the clothing industry.

The apparel industry supply chain starts from the farming of cotton in the cotton fields, manufacturing of man-made fibers to selling clothes in retail store to the consumers. Broadly the skeleton of the apparel supply chain consist of the following.

Entry to the clothing industry has always been easy because of the relatively small amount of capital required to purchase machinery and the necessary raw materials.

For the past century the industry has been dominated by one simple, cheap and long-leaved tool, the basic sewing machine, and this not only facilitates entry into the industry but virtually dictates its structure. This is amply demonstrated by the large number of small factories which exist within the industry.
Working space of a garment industry
Working space of a garment industry
The clothing industry manufactures a vast variety of garment types ranging from work clothes to ball gowns and the production itself can be carried out by one of two types of organization: a manufacturer or a sub-contractor.

Apparel manufacturers: Marketing, merchandising, and production. Apparel production is categorized in two types.
  1. Perform manufacturing within own facilities and employees.
  2. Contact some or all of the manufacturing functions to other firms. Contracting even categorized in 3 sub category. These are like -
  • Cut-make-trim (CMT) contactors: supply operators, machines, and thread and make garments.
  • Full package program (FPP): source materials and develop patterns as well as make garments. Greater financial responsibility. FPP might higher CMT contractors.
  • Specialty contractors: provide services such as pattern grading, cutting, embroidering, belt making, fabric pleating, or screen printing.
These account for most of the small factories within the clothing industry and they exist because they produce garments of acceptable quality at competitive price in a short through put time. The contractor’s prices must not only be competitive with those of other sub-contractor, but they must also be low enough to make it attractive for the manufacturer.

The strength of the sub-contractor is in factory management and the maintenance of very low overhead. In addition he must:
  1. Maintain continuity of production;
  2. Ensure that his customers are reputable and financially secure;
  3. Recognize and select the most profitable opportunities;
  4. Obtain high productivity levels from his labour force;
  5. Utilizes to the fullest all the materials supplied by the manufacturer.
As an individual, the sub-contractor will perform nearly all the management and administrative functions within the factory and will also regularly visits the manufacturers supplying work to the unit.

Working method: the manufacturer can produce garments via a sub-contractor in a number of ways, for example:

1. Cutting:
The manufacturer can supply the sub-contractor with
  • 1.Cut garments ready for sewing;
  • 1.Raw materials and cutting markers;
  • 1.Raw materials and graded sets of patterns.
2. Making-up:
This is the raison-d’être of the sub-contractor and the basic service he sells.

3. Trimmings:
The manufacturers can supply all, some or none of the trimmings required to make the garments.

4. Finishing:
This usually refers to pressing, final inspection and bagging, and one or more of these process can be performed by the manufacturer or the sub-contractor.

5. Quality control:
The manufacturer usually operates in process and final quality control procedures to ensure that garments produced bby the sub-contractor are according to specification.
Manufacturer and Sub-contractor
Manufacturer and Sub-contractor
Retailing means selling clothing to the consumer. Apparel manufacturers may be forward vertically integrated into the retail sector through owning their own stores.  
Retailing format: there is seven different format of garment retailing as following,
  • Catalog retailers (Examples: Land's End, L.L. Beans).
  • Department store retailers (Examples: Dillard’s, Macy’s).
  • Internet retailers
  • Mass retailers: offer consumer goods in a discount with self service environment (Examples: Wal-mart, Target, and J.C. Penney).
  • Specialty retailers: offer a large selection of a limited line of consumer goods with narrow target customers (Examples: Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom).
  • Ware house/wholesale clubs (Examples: Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s).
  • Retailer outlets: clearance centers of the previous season’s and year’s.
Retailers use multiple channels of distribution and channel integration.

Example: Department store + Web sites+ Catalog distribution.

Decisions at all levels are based on forecasts of customer demand.

Technology has dramatically altered the apparel industry, but the need to source textiles, trims and findings for manufacture into garments that fit the consumer's budget keeps the basic structure of the industry intact, and offshore manufacturing has contributed to maintaining low retail prices. Technology allows global expansion because a designer in New York can easily communicate with mills and manufacturing facilities in other countries, sending graphics and design specifications instantly via the Internet.

So we can utilize the advancement of the technology for the better result from our clothing industry, and grown up the skills of our employee day by day. And this easy but smarter way can make us best from better.


  1. Textile industry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Market structure - Tags: CLOTHING industry (
  3. Textile and clothing industry | Economist - World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance (
  4. Introduction to clothing manufacture by Gerry Cooklin 


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