This paper questions the proposition that creativity-led cultural industries can prosper in peripheral locations. To that end, it examines the apparent success of New Zealand s designer fashion industry in the first years of the twenty-first century. The paper critiques the conclusion that New Zealand s fashion success was the outcome of national industry policies that nurtured and promoted place-based creative talent. It also critiques the micro-scale, network-based research methodologies that produce such a conclusion. The paper deploys novel quantitative methods to show how retail market structures and trade regulations shaped competition in the isolated and newly integrated Australasian fashion market. New Zealand s creative success is shown to have relied on advantageous cost relativities and favourable macro institutional arrangements. The paper concludes that convincing explanations of creative industry success must consider the effects of higher order processes and structures that are not revealed by micro-scale, actor-based methodologies.