Abstract: The Origins of "Made in Spain" Fashion: Hub-Firm Clusters and Industrial Districts in Textiles, Clothing, and Shoemaking since the Golden Age

Jordi Catalan and Ramon Ramon Muñoz


Firms dealing with "made in Spain" fashion products have increasingly been penetrating foreign markets during the last two decades or so. This paper focuses on the origins of this process by exploring the Spanish export districts for textiles, clothing, and shoemaking during the 1980s, just before the most important "made in Spain" fashion firms began internationalizing. Using a new database, it concludes that by that time a remarkable number of districts with competitive advantages in these fashion products were hierarchical. This probably allowed them to combine the advantages derived from external economies with those connected to firms' capabilities. The same combination is likely to lie behind the international success of some of the main "made in Spain" fashion firms, although not all of them originated in export districts. In this respect, this paper also suggests that since the early 1990s export industrial districts transformed. Their hierarchical nature seems to have strengthened. This was probably due to a combination of deregulation policies and the diffusion of TICs, which reinforced the advantages of firms' capabilities in marketing and distribution, whereas the competitive advantage of districts experienced a relative decline.