Minority enterprise in the clothing industry: an analysis of Asian jeans manufacturers in Birmingham
This thesis discusses and assesses the resources available to Asian entrepreneurs in the West Midlands' clothing industry and how they are used by these small businessmen in order to address opportunities in the market economy within the constraints imposed. The fashion industry is volatile and is dependent upon flexible firms which can respond quickly to shortrun production schedules. Small firms are best able to respond to this market environment. Production of jeans presents an interesting departure from the mainstream fashion industry. It is traditionally gared towards longrun production schedules where multinational enterprises have artificially diversified the market, promoting the 'right' brand name and have established control of the upper end of the market, whilst imports from Newly Developing Countries have catered for cheap copies at the lower end of the market. In recent years, a fashion element to jeans has emerged, thus opening a market gap for U.K. manufacturers to respond in the same way as for other fashion articles. A large immigrant population, previously serving the now declining factories and foundries of the West Midlands but, through redundancy, no longer a part of this employment sector, has ~5ponded to economic constraints and market opportunities by drawing on ethnic network resources for competitive access to labour, finance and contacts, to attack the emergent market gap. Two models of these Asian entrepreneurs are developed. One being somecne who has professionally and actively tackled the market gap and become established. These entrepreneurs are usually educated and have personal experience in business and were amongst the first to perceive opportunities to enter the industry, actively utilising their ethnicity as a resource upon which to draw for favorable access to cheap, flexible labour and capital. The second model is composed of later entrants to jeans manufacturing. They have less formal education and experience and have been pushed into self-employment by constraints of unemployment. Their ethnicity is passively used as a resource. They are more likely confined to the marginal activity of 'cut make and trim' and have little opportunity to increase profit margins, become estalished or expand.