What Is The Secondary Level Of The Fashion Industry: 4 Sectors To Learn (An Easy Explanation)

The fashion industry is a vast, multi-layered entity, and understanding its complexities can often seem daunting. In this article, I am going to delve into the secondary level of the fashion industry, a tier that plays a crucial role in getting those stunning designs into your wardrobe. 

I’ll break down the four key sectors that define this level, providing a straightforward explanation for those keen to gain a deeper insight. Whether you’re an aspiring fashionista, a student of design, or a curious reader, this exploration of the fashion industry’s secondary level is sure to enrich your understanding.

the secondary level of the fashion industry

What Is the Secondary Level of the Fashion Industry: 4 Sectors to Learn

The secondary level of the fashion industry includes designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and vendors involved in producing, distributing, and selling clothing and accessories. These sectors are interconnected and play a crucial role in the overall success of the fashion industry. In this article, we will explore each sector in detail.

#1. Designers:

Designers are responsible for creating new designs, patterns, and styles that are at the forefront of fashion trends. They work closely with fashion houses or freelance for their own label. The fashion industry has many categories, including ready-to-wear, haute couture, streetwear, and fast fashion. Each category requires a different set of skills, and designers often specialize in one or more of these areas. Here are the details of various disciplines of designers:

– Fashion Design: Fashion designers create new designs from scratch. They work closely with textile designers, garment technologists, and pattern makers to bring their ideas to life. Fashion designers may work for themselves, brands, or high fashion houses.

– Textile Design: Textile designers create new fabrics and prints. They design and color the fabric, taking into account the latest fashion trends and customer preferences. Textile designers work alongside fashion designers to create cohesive collections.

– Footwear Design: Footwear designers create new designs for shoes, sandals, boots, and sneakers. They may specialize in either men’s or women’s footwear or create unisex designs. Footwear designers work directly with manufacturers to ensure their designs are correctly made.

– Accessory Design: Accessory designers design new products such as bags, hats, belts, and jewelry. They often work closely with fashion designers to create complementary designs. Accessory designers may also work for themselves, brands, or high fashion houses.

#2. Manufacturers:

Manufacturers are responsible for producing garments and accessories in quantities that meet market demand. They follow the designer’s specifications and produce the items in bulk. Their main objectives are to ensure the high quality of products, timely delivery, and cost-effectiveness. Let’s know about the manufacturers:

– Cut and Sew Manufacturers: Cut and Sew manufacturers receive fabric, cut it, and sew the pieces together to make garments. Factories with advanced technology may produce high-end garments with minimal hands-on work.

– Full Package Manufacturers: Full package manufacturers provide all the services required to produce garments. They source materials and provide patternmaking, cutting, sewing, finishing, and packing. They sometimes aid the designer to create samples or phone in-house designers to provide inspiration.

– Private Label Manufacturers: Private label manufacturers create products for clients under their own branding. They may create their own designs from scratch or use the client’s existing designs. Small businesses often use this type of manufacturer.

#3. Wholesaler Vendors:

Wholesaler clothing vendors are responsible for distributing the products produced by manufacturers to retailers. They buy large quantities of stock from manufacturers or other wholesalers and sell them in smaller quantities to retailers. Here are the details of the responsibilities of the wholesalers:

– Stock Managing: Wholesalers have to keep inventory management in check. The aim is to avoid stockouts and ensure the timely delivery of products. Managing a continuous supply chain requires outstanding planning and quick decision-making abilities.

– Shipping & Logistics: Wholesalers have to ensure the delivery of products to retailers, which requires careful management of the shipping and logistics process. Wholesalers have to work with manufacturers, shipping carriers, and transportation providers to ensure prompt delivery with no stockouts.

– Sales: Wholesalers have sales representatives who work closely with retailers to promote products. Sales reps must have excellent communication and networking skills and a thorough knowledge of the products they sell.

#4. Retail Vendors:

Vendors are the last stop in the fashion industry chain before the products reach customers. They sell the products directly to customers through physical or online stores. The following describes the roles of vendors:

– Retail Marketing: Vendors use physical or online stores to reach customers. They often employ marketing strategies through in-house marketing teams or contracted marketing agencies to run campaigns. These include commercials, ads, promotions, and social media.

– Sales and Customer Service: Vendors employ sales representatives who engage with customers and provide assistance with their items. They have product knowledge and often cross-sell or upsell items in which a customer is already interested.

– Feedback and Trends: Vendors keep abreast of fashion trends and customer feedback to improve future products or purchasing strategies. Customer interactions, online reviews, and sales metrics help influence decisions about products and services.

What Are the First, Third, and Fourth Levels of the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is made up of various interconnected segments, and as per the traditional view of fashion’s infrastructure, it can be divided into four levels. You already know about the secondary level of the fashion industry. Now, here I will discuss the first, third, and fourth levels of the fashion industry, their functions, and their impact on the overall industry.

The First Level: Textile Production

Textile production, or the first level of the fashion industry, is responsible for the production of raw materials, including yarn, fabric, and trims. This segment also includes textile mills, dyeing and printing houses, and other related businesses. The primary role of this level is to create the materials that will be used in the creation of clothing and other fashion products.

The Third Level: Retail and Merchandising

The third level of the fashion industry deals with retail and merchandising, which primarily involves the sale of clothing and other fashion products to the end consumer through various channels. This level includes department stores, boutiques, online stores, and other brick-and-mortar retail spaces. The merchandising aspect involves the creation of the product assortment, pricing, and placement, while retailing is all about selling and after-sales services.

The Fourth Level: Auxiliary Services

The fourth level of the fashion industry, also known as auxiliary services, includes various media and creative services that support the industry’s other three levels. This level has a critical role in brand building, promotion, and research. The auxiliary services segment mainly includes advertising, public relations, fashion forecasting, trend analysis, and various analytical and consultative services that support the other segments.

How Are All Levels of the Fashion Industry Interconnected?

The fashion industry is an interconnected global system, with each level of the industry playing an important role in the overall success of a product or brand. The first level provides the raw materials and finished products, while the second deals with design, production, and distribution. The third level handles retailing and merchandising, while the fourth offers auxiliary services that support all other levels. All these levels need to work together as an interconnected system for the fashion industry to operate efficiently. 

Moreover, all four levels have direct and indirect connections with each other. For example, the success of a product or brand depends on its design, production, distribution, retailing, and merchandising. In turn, auxiliary services, such as advertising and trend analysis, must support these processes. 

Additionally, the raw materials in the first level are often sourced from global suppliers, while trends and consumer preferences drive design decisions in the second level. 

Overall, the fashion industry is an interconnected system that requires all four levels to work together for successful outcomes. Each level has a unique role that affects the success of products or brands, and the auxiliary services support all other levels. Without this interconnected system, the fashion industry could not operate efficiently. 

Finally, with the proliferation of technology, the fashion industry has become increasingly globalized and competitive. The need for efficient processes is greater than ever before, with each level playing a crucial role in overall success. 

As such, organizations need to take advantage of the interconnected nature of the industry and ensure their operations are optimized. By understanding how each level contributes to success, brands can create strategies that maximize results throughout the entire fashion industry cycle. 

Check out the below video content for a more detailed understanding of how the fashion industry works.


The fashion industry is composed of many different levels, each with its own roles and responsibilities. Its secondary level is comprised of four other sectors. From manufacturers to vendors, people in the fashion business have many tasks to complete to ensure that products are made, marketed, and sold successfully. 

Although this article focuses on the secondary level, I keep discussing the other three levels here. Each level is interconnected and works together to create a successful fashion industry. 

From the creation of designs to the distribution of products, all levels must be considered in order for businesses to succeed. Organizations can develop strategies that maximize efficiency and profits throughout the system by understanding each level’s role and functions.

Tamim Shikder
Tamim Shikder

Head of the editorial team of myapparelsourcing.com. I have been working as a merchandiser in the apparel-sourcing industry for the last seven years. Over the years, I have gained a strong understanding of the clothing business and have developed skills in product development, quality control, pricing negotiation and customer service. I am also well versed in the latest trends of fashion and retail industry. For any clothing manufacturing needs, please email me at info@myapparelsourcing.com

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