Since the end of apartheid, global participation through connecting to global automotive value chains has been a key feature among successful leather producers in South Africa. By studying leather producers in two central hubs – Port Elizabeth and Pretoria – this master thesis highlights how the automotive leather producers have fared in a global context, through the lens of ’global value chains’. In global value chains, the concept of upgrading is used to explain how producers may improve their position in the face of competition. However, local conditions have played, and continue to play, an important part in determining whether the South African leather producers are able to benefit and improve from their participation in global value chains. Using contributions from global production networks, this study shows how upgrading opportunities are affected by the local contexts the leather producers are embedded in and the governance structures in their global value chain. Elevating the local contextual aspect of value chains allows for a better understanding of the upgrading opportunities experienced by South African leather producers in their global value chains– or as it may be, the lack thereof.