The Impact of Globalisation on Jacques Hau and the South African Apparel Industry
Working Paper Number: 423
Author: Nicholas Manolagas
This paper considers the history and evolving strategy of Jacques Hau, a Cape Town clothing manufacturer, as a lens for exploring how globalisation within the worldwide apparel industry has shaped the South African clothing industry. Part 1 is a discussion of global value chain theory, which provides the framework and terminology to discuss the changes within South Africa. It also covers the growing emergence of fast fashion retailers. Part 2 covers the history of the South African apparel industry primarily within the last 50 years. It then focuses on the plight of the local manufacturers, which were devastated by the international competition brought by globalisation. Part 3 provides an in-depth examination by contextualizing the strategy shifts of Jacques Hau and highlighting the recent difficulties facing South African retailers. Jacques Hau is somewhat of an anomaly, as it has remained competitive for the last 80+ years by altering its strategies and even reinventing its business model after each major change wrought by the country’s shifting relationship to the global economy. By understanding the actions of Jacques Hau, it is possible to gain a grounded understanding of how global pressures can shape and restrain strategies at the firm level and how globalisation ‘lands’ in South Africa. Finally, the paper reflects on the merit of prevailing global value chain theory based on the findings from Jacques Hau and other players within the South African apparel industry.