From strength to strength
From humble beginnings to a massive work wear conglomerate, Dickies has an impressive history spanning the past 90 years. We talk to Grant Meyer, general manager of Dickies, to get the lowdown on this company’s history, current developments and its future in the South African market
When and how was the Dickies brand created?
It’s the flagship brand of the family-owned Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company, which was established during 1922 in Texas, in the United States (US).
From its early years, Williamson-Dickie enjoyed steady growth, which was slowed only by the Great Depression. During the Second World War the company produced millions of uniforms for the nation’s armed forces – converting to civilian production after the war.
This brought about a strategy of geographical expansion and new production facilities, warehouses, and sales territories were established throughout the US. In the late 1950s, Williamson-Dickie became an international company by expanding into the European and Middle Eastern markets.
Dickies is currently sold throughout the US, and worldwide in countries such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Chile, South Korea, Japan, Iceland, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Poland and Mexico.
When did this brand enter the South African market?
The Dickies fashion brand entered the South African market 30 years ago. Dickies work wear entered the local market in 2013 and has already established itself as a durable, hard-wearing brand.
Which of your products are the most popular in the South African workplace?
Our most popular product is the Dickies Eisenhower multi-pocket trouser complete with knee pads, which provides protection and support across various surfaces, paired with the Eisenhower jacket. Our legendary 847 set of trousers and shirt is the cornerstone of the brand.
Who distributes the products?
Dickies is a licensed division of Skye Distribution, based in Johannesburg. It has showrooms in the other major cities throughout South Africa.
What sets the Dickies brand apart from other work wear?
Dickies offers the consumer a one-stop catalogue, globally diverse products, top quality and a vast range of apparel and footwear.
Why should someone choose your products?
The brand’s reputation speaks for itself, as it has successfully serviced oil rigs and refineries, construction sites and the agricultural sector for decades.
What are the challenges that the work wear industry is facing at the moment?
The work wear market’s biggest challenge is the prevalence of sub-standard products in the industry. Consumers are purchasing cheaper products without understanding the impact, or the importance of purchasing the correct product for their industry.
How are you overcoming these challenges?
We’re educating our customers and distributors on the importance of using a good-quality product. We are also promoting the key intrinsic qualities that our products offer, and how to match these to each sector.
Are there any trends within the industry that you are excited about?
The main trend is that the work wear industry is moving towards offering products that customers can wear on and off the job. Customers want to easily transition between work and play, without having to change their clothes.
How is Dickies pursuing this?
Dickies has been able to bridge the gap and successfully service the “on the job – off the job” market. We’ve developed various products – including our oxford shirts and denim range – that are suitable for all employees at any level.
What does the future hold for the work wear industry and for Dickies in particular?
Consumers are becoming more aware of the need to purchase good quality products, and are willing to invest
more to ensure durability. This is where Dickies, with its exceptional quality, has the opportunity to leverage its products within the Southern African market.