Apparel companies feeling the effects of constrained capital are seeking new business strategies to help them prepare for success in a changing economy, including licensing production to third parties and launching new start-up companies.

The observations from Bibby Financial Services, which specialises in providing accounts receivable and purchase order financing to small and medium-sized businesses, suggest apparel companies are actively seeking new options to keep their firms growing.

A major trend is for designers to license production of their goods to other companies.

"That shifts the cost of production to the licensee," explains Bibby Financial Services managing director Nick Hart.

"Designers like this arrangement during times of reduced liquidity because it allows them to concentrate on the design and brand management without spending time on financing and manufacturing issues."

Despite the still precarious economic environment, a second trend in the apparel industry is the burst of many new start-up companies in the fashion world.

"Designers are leaving existing houses to start their own businesses," Hart explained. "Business disruption always creates lots of opportunity and that's what we are seeing."

A third trend is a slowdown in payment from overseas distributors, further reducing liquidity in the system.