Abstract: Fashion and Competitiveness in the Catalan Knitting Districts, 1961-2004

Montserrat Llonch

Abstract

The industrial district is a useful analytical approach to the study of the operating of fashion. In order to asses the role of districts in the creation of fashion, two Catalan knitwear districts (Maresme and Anoia) are compared during a key period of liberalization of the commercial exchanges in Spain (1961-2004). In order to approach the elusive concept of fashion, I consider trademarks as the main variable: in particular, which trademarks are registered by which enterprises, when, where, and their survival. The study states that initially (1971) both Catalan knitwear districts had a similar pattern in generating more trademarks in comparison to the non-Catalan. The entrepreneurial concentration given within a district generated within the companies the need to differentiate among them in productive and commercial terms, if they wanted to survive. That explains why within districts more trademarks were created than in other areas. But twenty-five years later, data shows that in relative terms trademarks from Anoia lasted longer than those from Maresme. This is explained by a more hierarchical industrial structure and a production specialized in knitted outwear. The existence of consolidated trademarks was a key factor of competitiveness of the Catalan knitwear districts. The companies with a strong trademark from Anoia and Maresme districts showed a stronger exporting vocation and a lesser vulnerability to changes in commercial distribution that occurred Spain from 1980.