i. Specialty Retail Industry
Specialty retail industry includes apparel retail, computer and electronic retail, home improvement retail, specialty stores, automotive retail and home furnishing retail. ii. Apparel Retail Industry
Apparel retail industry is one of sub-industries of Specialty retail industry. According to MarkrtLine, “The industry value is calculated at retail selling price (RSP), and includes all taxes and levies.
a. Type of product
According to MarketLine, “The apparel retail industry consists of the sale of all menswear, women’s wear and children’s wear. The menswear market includes men’s activewear, casual wear, essentials, formalwear, formalwear-occasion and outerwear. The women’s wear market includes women's activewear, casual wear, essentials, formalwear, formalwear-occasion and outerwear. The children’s wear market includes baby clothing, boys activewear, boys casual wear, boys essentials, boys formalwear, boys formalwear-occasion, boys outerwear, girls activewear, girls casual wear, girls essentials, girls formalwear-occasion, girls outerwear and toddler clothing” (2013). This industry which including clothing, footwear and accessories is a multibillion-dollar industry.
Products being sold can be divided into three distinct categories - couture, ready-to-wear (RTW) and mass production.
(a). Couture Wear
Couture wears are exclusively tailored by in-house designers and are produced in limited numbers of expensive, high quality garments. Couture houses are organised according to long-established principles, with the couturier (or designer) providing an identity and direction, supported by assistant designers and a premier de l'atelier (head of the work room). Couture houses are regulated by national organisations which ensure that members meet stringent design, manufacturing and commercial regulations.These regulations make couture garments affordable by very few consumers (Wigley, 2004).
(b). Ready-to-Wear (RTW)
As such, to be commercially sustainable, the fashion industry provides less wealthy consumers with cheaper garments. The antecedents of this RTW industry are in eighteenth century second-hand clothes dealers who stocked unwanted samples from tailors and dressmakers. Thereafter, manufacturers were making garments to be specifically sold in such outlets, facilitated by their new ability to produce relatively cheap and high quality garments. RTW acquired greater significance during the 1960's and afterward as the division between it and couture became blurred. Designers were able produced garments which were distinctive and cutting-edge while remaining relatively affordable (Wigley, 2004).
(c). Mass Production
Mass production of clothing was pioneered during the early twentieth century. The process of manufacturing a large number of garments involves fabric testing, pattern cutting, sizing, and assembly. Today, this process is often computerised, using design software to plan the process and automatic machinery to carry it out. Typically, independent companies undertake mass production on behalf of the brand under which the garments are sold, usually high street brands such as Marks and Spencer. As the fortunes of this company illustrate, predicting styles sizes and delivering consistent quality to the customer is challenging. The most successful mass-market retailers have sophisticated forecasting techniques, just-in-time manufacturing, efficient distribution and effective marketing (Wigley, 2004).
A related concept to mass production is fast fashion. They are clothing collections emulating the latest trends on the catwalk that are designed, manufactured swiftly and are priced at an affordable range. It mostly targets mainstream consumers as "they want to be able to buy the things celebrities are wearing or they want to be able to buy into the trends that they've seen from the catwalk as quickly as possible" (Fast Fashion, 2004). Some well-known brands that are