Adapting to Foreign Competition: The Textile and Clothing Industry in the Herning-Ikast Area of Jutland, Denmark
This case study deals with the textile and clothing industry in western Jutland, a peripheral and largely rural part of Denmark. It is shown that this industrial district is characterized by deep historical roots, a local entrepreneurial culture, and strong networking traditions, and that its firms have been able to meet changing challenges with flexible responses. We discuss policies that governments can pursue to create optimal conditions for the future development of this kind of industrial district.
The Herning-Ikast textile and clothing industry has its origin in the eighteenth century, when the poor farmers of this sandy, heath-covered region started knitting stockings from the wool of their sheep ( Hansen 1983). In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, some local people created manufacturing firms that put out much of the production (especially of undergarments) to farmers who had knitting machines on their farms. Thus, a tradition of local entrepreneurship and close networks between local partners emerged. In the district, which previously had no large towns, Herning-Ikast grew up at the new railway stations. They have now reached a population in the contiguous built-up areas of 30,000 and 15,000, respectively. The industry increased in the 1930s and 1940s, based on the protected Danish market, where everything that was produced could be sold.