Kate Hills

Kate Hills is the founder and editor of Make it British. After 20 years working as a designer and buyer for brands such as Burberry, Levis and M&S, she became disillusioned with the short term vision that many of them had about where their products were sourced. Determined to do something to promote British manufacturing and brands who's products are made in Britain, she set up the Make it British website, a leading source of information on products made in the UK> She lives in a mid-century bungalow in Surrey and in her spare time she is studying for a masters degree in internet retailing.

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Every year Make it British holds a trade show in London to bring together UK manufacturers with businesses that want to make their products in the UK. #MTM2017 was our fourth edition…here are the highlights.

Highlights from Meet the Manufacturer 2017Our 2017 show was the fourth edition and saw thousands of people from all over the country, as well as from as far away as America and Japan, flock to the Truman Brewery in East London.

This is a clear indication of the rising demand for UK manufacturing and makes us more enthusiastic than ever about manufacturing in the UK.

Here is Meet the Manufacturer 2017 in numbers….

50% More attendees than in 2016 – making for a packed house on both days

27 Countries were represented amongst our visitors, with every continent covered and International visitors double that of last year. Japanese and Scandinavian buyers were particularly keen on looking for UK manufacturers and British-made product at the show

1249 Delegates attended the free seminars over 2 days to learn more about partnerships, production and provenance in UK manufacturing.

43 British-made brands exhibited in our new Make it British brand hall, where there was a fantastic networking atmosphere amongst the Make it British members

41 Machines in action at the show – including sewing machines, heat-transfer printing, machine knitting, screen printing and leather embossing.

186 Glasses Three Choirs English sparkling wine, 200 Sipsmith gin with Fever Tree tonics and 408 bottles of Meantime beer were served at the evening reception courtesy of UK Fashion & Textile Association.

9 Dogs including two guide dogs and a dancing Maltese in a Union Jack coat

6 Sheep (of the multi-coloured kind) in the British Wool Sheepish Studio

1 Fire alarm! Caused by a random smoke machine being let off in a photo shoot taking place in on the floor above the show. It may have interrupted our Facebook Live broadcast at the time, but it didn’t dampen spirits at the show.

In this interview for the Manufacturing at Heart Podcast I talk about my previous career, and the tipping point that made me decide to give up my jet-setting job as a buyer and dedicate myself to supporting UK manufacturers.

Make it British Manufacturing at Heart Podcast

Click the image to hear the interview

Manufacturing at Heart is a weekly podcast which brings together manufacturing stories from across Europe. The show interviews CEOs, Ops People, Innovators, Academics and Journalists alike who all have one thing in common – they have Manufacturing at Heart!

I was delighted to be interviewed by Mark Redgrove for the podcast and be able to tell the story of why I founded Make it British.

In the interview I talk about my previous career as a designer and buyer for well known brands, and the tipping point that made me decide to give up my jet-setting job as a buyer and dedicate myself to supporting UK manufacturers.

We also cover what the advantages are of making in the UK versus overseas, and what I see as the potential for growth in British textile manufacturing.

I also explain why I decided to set up a trade show for UK manufacturers, and the challenges I faced in doing this having known nothing about running events when I founded the show!

If you’re currently in a corporate career and thinking that it’s time to do something different, but scared about taking the leap, then I hope some of what I say in the interview will help inspire you.

And if you are looking for manufacturers and want to make product in Britain, or want to network with businesses that are making in the UK, then why not join 5,000 others just like you and come to the show? More details here www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

You can listen to the interview on the Manufacturing at Heart Podcast here

Meet the Expert at MTM2017

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Need some advice on making clothing in the UK? Pop into the ‘Meet the Expert’ drop-in clinic at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show and get your questions answered.

meet the expert

Top L-R: David Reay, Vic Rosenberg, Saumen Kar. Bottom L-R: Alison Lewey, Kate Hills, Daliah Simble

For people thinking about starting up or expanding a business, this year we have a brand new feature to at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show just for you.

In our new, dedicated Enterprise Hall we will have a team of experts on hand offering one-to-one practical advice and hands-on experience on different aspects of manufacturing and business development.

With nearly 150 years of manufacturing and product development experience between them , our expert team will be on-site at the event to answer questions on the hot topics of sourcing and production.

The Meet the Expert team includes:

  • David Reay, previously Manufacturing and Sourcing Director at J Barbour and Sons
  • Daliah Simble, previously of Roland Mouret, set up her own fashion consultancy in 2015
  • Alison Lewy MBE, founder of Fashion Angel and mentor and author of Design, Create, Sell – a guide to starting a fashion business
  • Vic Rosenberg, former MD of Puffa, with over 40 years experience in production and supply chains
  • Saumen Kar, director of London Ethnic, which helps designers in the early stages of their business by offering marketing and production services
  • Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, previously a designer and buyer for Burberry and M&S

This carefully-selected team of experts will be sharing their insights and practical advice in these free, drop-in sessions. We’re expecting this service to be very popular, so visitors will be able to book their slot on the day and will be invited to leave any unanswered questions with the panel, to be answered in one of our weekly Make it British Facebook Live sessions at a later date.

Meet the Manufacturer is proud to be the only sourcing event exclusively for British fashion, accessories and homeware.

Taking place on 24 and 25 May at The Old Truman Brewery, London, this year’s trade show will be the biggest and best yet with around 200 exhibitors.

New for 2017 are a series of free drop-in seminars, workshops and demonstrations connecting manufacturers of textiles, apparel and leather goods with buyers, designers and retailers looking to produce quality British-made products.

Also new this year is a British Brands Hall, giving creative businesses the opportunity to showcase their distinct and inspirational labels, including Marlborough of London, The English Mineral Make Up Company and Elizabeth Martin Tweed.

For more details and to register for a free ticket visit www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

We don’t think so, and we’ll show you why…

cost comparison making t shirt in UK versus overseas

You can’t compare apples to apples – buying clothing made overseas is not as cheap as you may think…

There is a myth that making clothing in the UK is much more expensive than manufacturing overseas. We’d like to dispel that myth and show you why that’s not the case, even on simple products such as T-shirts.

Let’s first start by looking at all of the different costs associated with making a good quality, branded T-shirt that retails for £25.

The average manufacturing cost for that T-shirt in the Far East, making a small quantity of a few hundred pieces, is around £4.24*. That price includes the fabric, cutting and stitching of the garment, labelling, pressing  and packing, and the factory overhead and margin.

The same T-shirt made in the UK is around £8.85. It’s seems like it’s more than double, but hear us out!

When clothing is made overseas there are several other costs that need to be taken into account before that product is ready to hit the shop floor.

Shipping and duty can be as much as £1.75  on a simple T-shirt, depending on the size of the order. And if the brand is buying through an agent they will take their cut too.

So now you get to a more likely cost of £7 for the Far Eastern-made T-shirt, compared to the £8.85 for the British one.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Retailers traditionally work on a profit margin of around 60% on a branded item when they sell it in their stores. A simple way to work that out is roughly double the wholesale cost plus VAT.

The problem is that retailers have to take into account the fact that not all of the product that they buy sells at full price.

The average sell-through (the amount sold at full price) on a fashion product is around 60%. High-fashion, seasonal colours and styles can have an even lower sell-through, especially when the buyer has had to predict the trends months in advance in order to place an order with a Chinese factory. And therein lies the problem.

With average order times from the Far East being around 12 weeks from when a buyer places an order, often the product sitting on the shelves is not what the customer wants to buy. So traditional retailers have to factor this into their pricing, with around 40% of clothing making no profit for them at all.

Having product available when a customer actually wants it is where sourcing locally comes into its own.

Having product available when a customer wants it is where sourcing locally comes into its own Click To Tweet

It’s why some of the fastest growing fashion retailers, such as ASOS and BooHoo, manufacture a large percentage of their clothing in the UK.

cost of making a t shirt in the UK

Making clothing in the UK means product can be made closer to when the customer wants it

Let’s assume that the average sell-through rate of a T-shirt which is bought within 4 weeks of going on sale is 80%. The wholesale price of the T-shirt may be higher, but if only 20% of the product goes in the sale then the retailer actually makes more profit.

It is not unheard of for UK-made brands to have a sell-through rate of 100%.

When they are selling online and able to gauge a reaction on the product via a channel such as Instagram they can literally make to order within a week. So every piece that they make sells at full price, because they have exactly what the customer wants…when they want it.

cost of making a t shirt in the far east

Clothing made overseas incurs many additional costs such as shipping and duty

This illustration doesn’t even include some of the other hidden costs of buying overseas, such as flights to the Far East to meet with the factory or courier bills for sending fit samples backwards and forwards until the product is correct?

One of the advantages to brands of making in the UK is that they can have close contact with the manufacturer, and hence can avoid costly sampling and production mistakes.

Simon Cook, MD of Discovery Knitting, who has been knitting quality fabrics for T-shirts in Leicestershire for over 30 years, told us:

I’ve heard of one brand who had to fit a T-shirt 17 times with a Chinese factory in order to get it right. At £54 a time for DHL to courier the sample over from the Far East that amounted to hundreds of pounds in sampling costs for just one T-shirt“.

Of course the price for making the T-shirt in the UK can vary massively according to so many different factors.

Simon Cook, who helped us to compile the figures for the cost price of the UK-made T-shirt, says that “£8.95 is the average price to make a small order of 150 T-Shirts in the UK, but this is based on an existing style. If there is a new pattern to be made and development work to be done then the brand will pay more”.

So how is the £8.95 cost of making a T-shirt in the UK broken down?

After speaking to different T-shirt manufacturers in the four main areas for jerseywear production in the UK (London, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester) to whom he supplies his fabric, Simon came up with the following breakdown of production costs for 150 short sleeve T-shirts:

Fabric – £3.15 100% Organic Combed Cotton Single Jersey dyed Optic white 170/175gsm using a metre of fabric per T-shirt and buying 90 metres of fabric from stock (which you can buy directly from the Discovery Knitting website here)

Cutting – 60p Based on cutting 150 T-shirts over 4 sizes – S/M/L/XL

Stitching – £4.00 Price per garment if it is a straightfoward style. Includes labour costs and factory overheads

Press, Trim and Kimble – 65p The cost for the final finishing and inspection of the T-shirt and the application of a swing tag.

Individual bag and barcode – 45p Packing the garment and getting it ready to go to stores

When you see it broken down like that, you can begin to understand how little profit UK manufacturers make compared to the retailers. Does that sound fair?

good joe t shirts

Good Joe don’t give the profits from their retailers to the big retailers – instead they donate garments to people in need

One way of getting the best value product for you money is to buy British-made directly from the brands and not from the retailers.

In the example that we have given, which we took from the ‘cost breakdown of a sample €29 T-shirt’ in the Fashion Revolution Zine, brands make very little margin. They will often be squeezed by retailers for the lowest possible price and have to cut their own profit in order to get in with the big stores. Traditionally they would try to double the cost price in order to set the wholesale price, but on highly competitive items such as T-shirts that may not be the case.

A good way for brands to get round this is to sell directly to the end consumer.

A great brand that sells T-shirts made in the UK is Good Joe. Not selling via retailers enables them to use the extra margin to give back to those less fortunate.

Margaret Church, the founder of Good Joe explains: “Selling directly to the consumer enables us not only to bring them great British quality at a lower price, but to fulfil our Buy One, Give One commitment. For every shirt purchased, we donate a new item of clothing here in the UK”.

Next time you complain about clothing being made in the UK being too expensive, stop and think about WHY that might be, and how by buying smarter you can change that perception.

Discovery Knitting stock a huge selection of knitted fabrics for making T-shirts and much more, all manufactured in their factory in Wigston, Leicestershire. To see the full range visit www.discoveryknitting.co.uk

http://www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

*Figures for production based on ‘Cost breakdown of a sample €29 T-Shirt’ by Fashion Revolution in their fantastic Zine – get hold of a copy here

With the ‘Made in UK’ label more in demand than ever before there has never been a better time for British-made brands. That’s why we’ve introduced a Brand Hall at our event.

Meet some of the brands that will be exhibiting at Meet the Manufacturer 2017.

If you’d like to register for a trade pass just follow this link.British Brands exhibiting in the Make it British hall at Meet the Manufacturer


Equi-Scuto

Equi-Scuto

Equi-Scuto

Equi-scuto are designers and creators of the finest leather equestrian leathergoods for clients – handcrafted in Yorkshire.

Alie Street

Alie Street

Alie Street

At Alie Street we give you the opportunity to feel confident and glamorous in impeccably made day dresses, red carpet gowns and wedding dresses.  Designed and made in Britain.

We are Rushworth

We are Rushworth

We are Rushworth design and manufacture knitwear in the Scottish Borders. Their range of accessories and tops for all the family are crafted using natural fibres which include lambswool, merino and cashmere.

Celtc & Co

Celtic & Co

Celtic & Co

Celtic & Co design and create enduring contemporary pieces using the finest natural fibres. They’ve been making sheepskin slippers, boots and accessories in Cornwall for nearly 27 years.

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne is a contemporary new luxury label designed exclusively for the petite woman. An opening capsule collection of smart, elegant and tailored clothes that can take you from desk to dinner.

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

100% Harris Tweed fashion designed by Elizabeth Martin, sourced, designed and hand made in Scotland. Invest in Elegance.

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose is a a multi-million pound fashion label specialising in maternity occasion and bridal wear.  Each Tiffany Rose dress has been lovingly designed and made in Britain.

The Throw Company

The Throw Company

The Throw Company

All of The Throw Company’s products are designed and hand made with loving care in their UK studio, using a wide choice of fabrics and colours, unique to the Throw Company and cruelty free.

Mirelle London

Mirelle

Mirelle london

Mirelle London is a British luxury handbags designer that specialises in creating bags made from the finest fabric and leather. All the Mirelle London bags are manufactured in Britain.

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar is a luxury versatile fashion collection which includes ready to wear scarves, skirts, tops and dresses with discreet neckline loops that allows for wearing as they are or paired with our scarves.

Good Joe

Good Joe

Good Joe

A socially conscious brand selling British made T-shirts and Polos for men. Each time you buy a Good Joe, they give a new item of clothing to someone in need in the UK.

Unibu

Unibu

Unibu

Unique British Underwear made to exacting standards entirely in the United Kingdom. Building on years of experience, Shirley Crisp created Unibu to offer great fit and quality.

Ruth Dent

Ruth Dent

Ruth Dent creates luxury silk scarves based on her own paintings.

Wild Things

Wild Things

Wild Things

Children’s fun play clothes for 6 months to 8 yrs. Handmade in Scotland.

Yarmo

Yarmo

Yarmo

Yarmo is a workwear factory brand made at Yarmouth Stores Limited in Norfolk, UK. The label is propelled by a significant following in Japan

London Tradition

London Tradition

London Tradition

Premium outerwear designer and manufacturer, specialising in British Duffle coats, Pea coats and Trench coats. Made only in England.

Isabella Queen

Isabella Queen

Isabella Queen

British luxury brand offering leather accessories handcrafted in London. Elegant structures with colour contrast, satin lining artwork representing London, designed in-house with British illustrators, designers and artists, are the hallmarks of the label.

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak – womenswear made in the British Isles.

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker is a British Menswear and Accessories brand. Specialising in silk Pocket Squares, Neck Ties, Scarves and Dressing Gowns. All products designed by Geoff and made by UK factories.

Luxac

Luxac

Luxac – The elegance of a handbag with the function of a rucksack

Draper of Glastonbury

Draper of Glastonbury specialise in luxurious natural products of sheepskin and leather

Sipahi Co

Sipahi & Co

Sipahi & Co

Sipahi & Co Eco-Luxury Leather Goods made exclusively with oak bark leather from the last remaining traditional British tannery of its kind. These belts age gracefully – like fine Bordeaux!

Bespoke British Pens

Bespoke British Pens

Bespoke British Pens

Luxury fountain pens made in Britain.

Meet the Manufacturer is a trade show organised by Make it British.

It is the only sourcing event exclusively for UK manufacturers and British-made brands. If you would like a trade ticket to attend please follow this link.

A recent survey has shown what we suspected all along, that the ‘made in UK’ label is one of the most highly prized amongst shoppers

made in uk ranked 4th

The survey of respected ‘Made in’ labels ranked Made in UK 4th out of 49 countries

In a recent global survey carried out by Statista, the UK was the 3rd highest ranked individual country for it’s ‘made in UK’ label. Only Germany and Switzerland came higher, whilst the ‘EU’ as a conglomeration of countries came in third.

The ‘Made in Country’ index ranks countries according to how positively a ‘made in…’ label is perceived respectively.

Over 43,000 people were interviewed across 53 different countries. They were asked to consider values such as quality, security standards, value for money, uniqueness, design, advanced technology, authenticity and sustainability.

The UK beat the likes of Italy (7th) and France (9th) and maybe not surprisingly China came in at the bottom at 49th.

This survey reiterates what Make it British has thought all along – that a Made in UK label is revered all over the world for its quality and provenance.

Made in UK does best

What does ‘made in the UK’ do best?

The survey went on to ask UK shoppers which products they thought their country made best.

Food came out top, with nearly half of the votes, whilst only 1 in 8 Brits rated their own consumer electronics as any good.

Despite the fact that shoes made in Britain are sought after all over the world, they received only 17% of their own country’s vote. Could this be due to the fact that consumer awareness of what actually is made in the UK is not as good as it could be?

Which products do YOU think ‘Made in UK’ does well? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

From self-taught to Royal Warrant Holder trained, we interview four fantastic hat makers to find out what inspires their British millinery.

Following last week’s feature on Top 20 British millinery brands we interview four hat makers who are members of Make it British.

Chloe Heywood British Milliner

Chloe Haywood: the lady herself wearing one of her hats.

How did you train to become a milliner?

Lady Sharma: My millinery skills were learnt from several award winning milliners and tutors from London, Cotswold, Loughborough and a worldwide tutor from Sydney, each of whom specialises in their niche material whether straw, felt, leather or thermoplastic.

I then further extended my education with a Royal Warrant Holder milliner who taught me traditional British millinery skills of measuring patterns, bias-cutting brims, finishing off wiring edges with invisible hand-stitching and more. These skills are what makes it so different from mass produced hats and machine stitched finishing.

Chloe Haywood: I’m self taught – my business started as a craft hobby using any materials I had at home to make small headpieces. My sustainable designs caught the eye of the press and stylists so I got bolder and started reblocking damaged hats into bigger designs using tips and tricks from other milliners, books and the internet. That collection went straight into Fenwick, Bond Street and sold out within weeks… Only then did I call myself a milliner.

Judy Bentinck: I trained for 2 days a week for 18 months with Rose Cory Royal Warrant Holder and Queen Mother’s milliner.

Maggie Mowbray: I originally trained in art and spent a large amount of time after I graduated working as an artist, sewing was something I have always done, which came naturally as a child. I think of millinery as the Venn diagram of the two! Back in 2010 I did a short felt hat making course which set me off on a journey for the next two years, pouring over old millinery techniques manuals and studying the construction of hats. Maggie Mowbray Millinery was established in 2012. I still strive to learn as many techniques as possible to add to my knowledge, I aim to make everything in house!

Lady Sharma British Milliner

Ladies Fedora by Lady Sharma.

What or who inspires your designs?

Lady Sharma: I find inspiration from daily life, whether I see it in landscape, nature and gardens, structures of buildings and interior design, or fashion catwalks. Usually I buy my materials first and collate them together before designing. When materials are laid out together, design ideas automatically flow in. However, what I sketch or design in mind often changes by the time I finish my piece! That is the beauty of millinery design and making, there is no set rule for each design, as long as it fits comfortably when worn, you can let your imagination run wild.

Chloe Haywood: Everything inspires me – music, sculpture, nature, colour and of course fashion.

Judy Bentinck: My inspiration is all around me, architecture, art, nature, colour, atmosphere, mathematics, texture, travel and so on…..

Maggie Mowbray: I take inspiration from lots of sources; art, architecture but mostly nature, I love natural forms and flowers, I spend time off in my garden, so botany always ends up playing a large part in my designs.

Judy Bentinck British Milliner

Judy Bentinck couture milliner, artist, tutor and author.

What do you enjoy most about being a British milliner?

Lady Sharma: The thing I enjoy most is being able to help others feel good and confident in wearing something I thoroughly enjoyed designing and creating. I love all hat events whether in the UK or internationally, and am amazed with all the photographs my customers send me from all over the world.

Chloe Haywood: There are so many elements of what I do that I love. There’s the creativity: designing and making the hats, prepping and styling the photoshoots, then I love the advertising / marketing side of the business, the social media buzz and then there’s the workshops. I run hen parties where ladies can make their own fascinator which are very enjoyable, let alone the corporate and educational workshops where I facilitate upcycling challenges, which is so rewarding.

Judy Bentinck: Millinery is a passion for me . I love the sculptural aspect of hatmaking. Hats conjure a mood or make a statement, express a personality and enhance an individual’s look or outfit.

Maggie Mowbray: I think British Millinery has a unique style; it’s elegant and structured and I think the style is recognisable as being British! We also have some great suppliers and block makers here in Britain.

Maggie Mowbray British Milliner

Stunning example of the Maggie Mowbray collection.

Finally, what has been the best thing about being a Make it British member?

Lady Sharma: Feeling proud to represent and promote a traditional British craftsmanship skill that has been on going for centuries.  Let’s continue Making it British!

Chloe Haywood: Ever since I joined Make it British I have had so many opportunities opened to me and the business. Lots of traffic from the website comes directly to my online shop which is fabulous, plus I’ve been nominated and won some awards off the back of me simply being listed with MIB. Make it British are very supportive of my work which is so valuable when you’re a small business and sometimes find work tough. I know if I have a query, I can contact Kate and the team, and they will give me the advice and reassurance I need.

Judy Bentinck: Being a Make it British member is important to me as British Millinery is renowned the world over and Make it British showcases and highlights the quality and professionalism of British made products.

Maggie Mowbray: I am really pleased to have been accepted by Make it British, they are really positive about promoting the Maggie Mowbray Millinery brand! You can find out more about each of our featured milliners by clicking on their name here: Chloe Haywood, Lady Sharma, Maggie Mowbray and Judy Bentinck.

Want to know more about millinery and hat making? Judy Bentinck has a fabulous book about designing and making hats and headpieces, which you can find here.

Setting up a British menswear brand is not without challenges, but quality rules over quantity, says Anthony & Brown founder Paul Brown

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Anthony & Brown was created?

I have a finance background. The passion for menswear fashion began while working for a company called Oliver Sweeney, who produce high end men’s shoes and menswear. 

Oliver Sweeney produced quite a lot of their products in Italy and they went through a difficult period when the value of the Pound to the Euro dropped significantly. This resulted in a take over and business relocation from Devon (my home area) to London. I was heavily involved in the takeover but declined the opportunity to continue in London due to other opportunities closer to home.  

This experience resulted in my passion for quality menswear and a desire to produce in the U.K.  Seeing Oliver Sweeney go through a difficult period made me keen to avoid uncontrollable pitiful’s such as currency fluctuations – hence producing from the United Kingdom whenever possible.

Anthony and BrownWhy did you decide to start your own brand and how did you go about launching it, who did you seek help from?

I had some success selling other brands online once I left Oliver Sweeney, this was mainly end of line stocks so I had no control of sizing and very little control of exact designs.  I wanted to produce a brand where I could have full control, and a brand that excited me and I would be proud to wear. 

I gained help from one of the old directors at Oliver Sweeney, who helped me to launch the brand via trade shows and online bloggers etc. 

Who is your target market for Anthony & Brown and what kind of research did you have to do to be sure there was the market for your garments?

My target audience is professional males ages 35-50, I researched by taking examples to trade shows and speaking to store owners and people in the industry. 

What have been your biggest challenges in starting the brand?

The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require.  Personal circumstances with illness of family members has also put a strain on the brand as it is a small team.

“The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require”

Why was it important for you to manufacture Anthony & Brown in the UK?

It is important to me to produce in the UK where possible as I believe strongly in quality over quantity. I would rather own one nice jumper that I am proud to be seen in than five jumpers which I don’t feel so good in.

I also love the fact that I can easily visit the factories and work alongside people who are passionate in their fields without language barriers.

anthony and brownWhat have been your biggest challenges in doing so?

One of the biggest challenges has been sourcing UK manufacturers for various items of clothing in the range.  Some items in  my range are made outside of the UK at the moment, however I am looking to make all future ranges in the UK and there are trade shows now which I will be attending to locate the best manufacturers for my brand.   (like our Meet the Manufacturer event Paul!) 

Can you tell us a bit about how you found your manufacturer? And why you chose them to work with?

I was introduced to my manufacturer by a sourcing agent I was using when I first started out.  I visited them and loved the quality of their product and how professional they were in their approach.

Anthony & Brown is already a popular brand and stocked in London, Hampshire and Devon, are there plans to expand to other stockists, or even have a dedicated store?

I am mainly working hard at increasing my online presence, gaining new customers and keeping my current customers happy. At some point in the future I would like to have a dedicated standalone store but that would not be for a while.

anthony and brownAnd how about the product range, it is already extensive and even includes some lovely dog accessories, what else might be in store in the future for Anthony & Brown fans? 

We are looking to bring in leather belts made from Oak bark leather. These belts are produced by the last tannery in the UK, who produce their leather using traditional methods which take up to 12 months per hide.

We are also looking to bring in a range of jumpers made from a merino wool and cashmere blend. 

The dog logo is a big part of your brand, tell us about the dog….

The dog logo is of my dog Penelope, she has a huge personality so it felt fitting to base the logo of the brand on her.  

She is coming up 6 now and has become a bit of a local celebrity, she is often spotted as being the dog from Anthony & Brown.

And finally, as one of our longstanding members what is the best thing for you about being a part of Make it British?

The best thing about being a member of Make it British has been that it is a very effective way to introduce my products to a lovely audience of people interested in supporting the country by buying British.

Kate and Lauren are very passionate about increasing awareness in British made products and are doing a great thing for the revival of the clothing industry in the UK.

You can find Anthony & Brown here and also at anthonyandbrown.co.uk

Despite sewing traditionally being seen as a ‘woman’s job’ there are still few women running sewing factories in the UK. On International Women’s Day we take a look at some of the inspiring women that are changing the face of garment manufacturing in Britain

sewing factories in the UKI received a call a while ago from a TV researcher asking if I could recommend any female sewing factory owners for a programme they were planning.

I know A LOT of sewing factories in the UK. I mean hundreds, if not thousands. And how many could I think of that were owned and run by women? It was less than a dozen. Which is disappointing when you consider that the vast majority of workers in sewing factories are women.

This low rate of women in top jobs in manufacturing reflects a survey carried out by EEF. They looked at the amount of women on the board of FTSE 100 manufacturing companies and found that the figure was 23%.

Yet I do think that the tide is turning.

This is in part due to the fact that as more small businesses look to manufacture in the UK, so they consider setting up their own small workshop to produce their products. It not only cuts out the cost of a manufacturers overheads, but also makes them the master of their own destiny.

Kate Holbrook Turtle Doves

Kate Holbrook, owner of Turtle Doves

Take for example Kate Holbrook, the founder of Turtle Doves. She set up her sewing studio three years ago and now has 30 people working for her, of which only two are men. Kate says of running her sewing factory,

“It may appear, from the outside, to be about the art of making things but I think that women make successful factory managers because it’s actually about communication and relationships above all and those are skills many women have.”

Kelly Dawson, co-founder of Dawson Denim

Kelly Dawson, co-founder of Dawson Denim

Another brand making it for themselves is Dawson Denim. Kelly Dawson runs a sewing workshop in Brighton with her husband Scott. Having worked in fashion for two decades Kelly could easily have chosen to outsource the manufacturing of her denim brand to a third party. But instead chose to make it all inhouse.

This personalised service means that her customers know the provenance of every garment that they buy from Dawson Denim, most of which has been made by her own fair hand.

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One-Company

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One-Company

Yet not all female factory owners go into the business because they have the sewing skills.

Kate Dawson, the founder of The All-in-One Company, set up her factory knowing nothing about garment production. She did so because she wanted to make a product that was bespoke to each customer, and realised that manufacturers were not keen on making orders of one! She now has a dedicated team of ladies working for her and is an inspiration to anyone who’s looking to make a unique product in Britain.

From my own experience of all the places that I have visited over the years, I do notice that women in sewing factories often run a tight ship. Manufacturing is, after all, all about managing people and timetables, something that women are very used to doing when they have to juggle the myriad of activities that modern children get up to after school.

Jenny Holloway, owner of Fashion Enter

Jenny Holloway, owner of Fashion Enter

“Manufacturing is so complicated but so rewarding,” says Jenny Holloway, the owner of Fashion Enter, a social enterprise factory which manufacturers for everyone from ASOS to M&S.

“I never set out to be a factory owner when I was a senior buyer for the Arcadia Group!  However now I am in this esteemed position I would never have it any other way – every day is different, every day is challenging and actually I now wonder how I was ever an effective Senior Buyer without knowing how to construct and cost a garment.”

But Jenny says that the path to running a successful sewing factory has not been easy. “Its taken 9 years to achieve the position of where I actually feel confident in all aspects of manufacturing but I am not arrogant enough to think that I could do this job without the wonderful team of the factory manager, production manager, QCs,  machinists and pressers.”

“I do think this is where woman have an advantage of being able to multi task, are not afraid to ask for advice and guidance when its required and actually just become so darn determined to make a job work.”

That hard work and determination have certainly paid off for Jenny. Today her factory has a leading status in the new Fast Forward audit, only two companies out of 360 have this accolade with ASOS.   

I hope that going forward we will see more and more woman taking the lead like those I’ve mentioned above, and start to set up or take over the running of sewing factories in the UK. It certainly seems like the modern woman has all the right skills for the job!

If you know of an inspiring woman running a manufacturing business in the UK in any sector then we’d love to feature them in a future article. Please leave just pop a mention of them  in the comments below

The Irish linen industry once employed over 40 percent of Northern Ireland’s working population, but sadly most of the mills have since closed down. I took a tour of Northern Ireland to visit some of the manufacturers still remaining in this often forgotten part of the UK textile industry. Read on to find out what I discovered.

Irish linenWhilst I have been writing about and visiting UK manufacturers for nearly a decade now, I am ashamed to say that I have never ventured over the water to Northern Ireland, once synonymous with the words Irish linen.

So when I got a call from Invest Northern Ireland inviting me to speak at a textile event they were holding, I couldn’t say no. And I’m so glad I didn’t!

Richard Pelan, Innovation Advisor for Invest NI, kindly took me to visit some of the manufacturing contacts that he’s been working with. Over two days I visited 6 of the best textile manufacturers that the UK has to offer.

What amazed me was how diverse the products that they made were, but what they all had in common was they were innovative and growing companies.

Read on to find out who I visited and the products that they make, but first, a little bit about the history of textile in Northern Ireland…

Back in the day the Irish textile industry was huge, employing 70,000 people at its peak over 37,000 looms. Everything centred around linen and practically every town and village had a mill or a factory. In 1955 there were 55 linen spinners in Northern Ireland, but sadly there are no more. The last closed in 2009. And the last weaver of any substantial size is Fergusons, which you’ll read about later.

Whilst many people think of linen when they think of Irish textiles, they also made a substantial amount of garments, including shirts, jeans and uniforms.

Sadly the Northern Irish textile industry has been even more greatly effected than the rest of the UK, with barely a hundred or so manufacturers left. Those that remain have done so because they have adapted, and because they have become specialists in high-end manufacturing. None of the factories that I visited served the price-pressured high street anymore. Instead they work with luxury clients all over the world.

Frances Dinsmore at Templemoyle Mills

Frances Dinsmore at Templemoyle Mills

First up was a stop at Francis Dinsmore at Templemoyle Mills. Originally established over two centuries ago by Augustian monks who were experts in dyeing, Dinsmore are specialists in cotton dyeing and finishing. I met with the company’s owner Barry Corrigan, who gave me a tour of the mill.

Run by the Dinsmore family from 1791 to 2007, the business was bought Barry, then managing director,  in 2007, because he didn’t want to see the factory knocked down and turned into flats. “You can only benefit by building property on the site once, whereas with textiles you can go on and on,” he tells me.

Barry talked with great passion about the many new business opportunities that he has made happen since he took over and it is clear why he has managed to more than double turnover in the last decade. Adding synthetic dyeing and cotton waxing, to the cotton dyeing and finishing that the Dinsmore were already doing, has greatly increased the variety of customers and industries that the business serves.

Supplying a broad variety of different customer bases is what has helped Dinsmore to survive where other textile companies in Northern Ireland have fallen by the wayside. Their customer base is as diverse as furnishing wholesalers, apparel companies, accessories manufacturers, the automotive trade and the book-binding industry. If you have a copy of the Koran it may be covered with fabric finished at the Francis Dinsmore mill.

Most recently the firm has set up an area to apply a waxed finish to cotton cloth under the brand name Templemoyle Mills. Named after the building in which Dinsmore are based, the fabric is used for outerwear, luggage, and accessories. If you are looking for waxed cotton fabric do check out Templemoyle Mills. They have loads of different weights, colours and finishes of the fabric in stock and they can supply it in quantities as small as 50 metres.

The fabric dyeing trade can be one of the most polluting parts of the textile industry. You only have to look at the pictures of Chinese rivers in rainbow shades – a bi-product of dye houses flushing out into rivers. Barry tells me that Dinsmore have stopped using many chemicals now that would have been used in the past, and many chemicals that are still approved for use, they don’t even touch.

RA Irwin textile manufacturers Northern Ireland

RA Irwin

My next stop was RA Irwin. Originally founded in 1951 as a handkerchief manufacturers, they are now a fully vertical weaver, finisher and printer of fabrics for blinds and bedding.

Still a family company, I was shown around by Richard Irwin, the grandson of the founder.  It is a wonder that Irwin is still in business, having survived both a fire in 1985 and a flood in 2008. But the Irwin’s are obviously a resilient bunch. And also very adaptable too.

When hankies went out of fashion, instead of packing it in, the business quickly switched to being a warp knitter. Then in the late ’90s they spotted an opportunity in weaving for the furnishing industry. With 34 looms and weaving 100,000 metres of cloth a month, they are probably one of the biggest weavers in the UK.

The fabric that they weave is made into all different types of blinds – including 1,000 metres a week of blackout blinds produced to meet a growing demand from parents for totally dark rooms for sleeping babies!

Irwin were also one of the first UK textile manufacturers to invest in digital printing technology – buying their first fabric printer in 2008 so that they could produce printed blinds to add to their collection.

Supplying through household names such as Hillary’s Blinds, Silent Night, Bensons and Dreams, chances are, you have had fabric woven and finished by RA Irwin in your property or workplace at some point in time.

Irish Linen

Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen

After RA Irwin we headed down to Banbridge to the last remaining linen weaver in Northern Ireland – Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, where I was greeted by one of their directors – Judith Neilly.

There used to be 38 weavers in Banbridge alone. Now Fergusons are the last of their kind, and have remained in business due to their diverse range of customers. They supply everyone from London Fashion Week designers, film and TV and the furnishing industry under their John England brand of linen fabrics.  As well as the Scouts and Girl Guides with badges which they embroider onsite under their Franklins brand. Visit any gift shop in Northern Ireland you will find Irish linen products made by Thomas Ferguson.

If you have ever watched Game of Thrones you would have seen plenty of fabrics woven at the Ferguson mill. Judith works very closely with the TV show’s costume department to create fabrics for the costumes for the show. She explains that linen has the perfect properties for TV – having the ability to look very aged and worn when it is creased, and the ability to look brand new again once it is washed and ironed.

Their weaving shed is vast, housing dozens of jacquard looms noisily hammering away producing the finest Irish linen cloth. They also have a sewing room where the cut and finish all of the linen tableware that they sell all over the world.

The range of cloth produced at the Ferguson mill is extremely diverse – from open, net-style weaves used in the latest Star Wars movies, to a lustrous indigo-dyed denim factory made by combining linen in the warp and cotton in the weft of the fabric.

To get an idea of the vast array of fabrics in John England range take a look at their website, or find them exhibiting at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show in May.

Ulster Carpets made in UK

Ulster Carpets

My final visit of the day finished on a high, as I had the opportunity to step inside Ulster Carpets in Portadown. I’ve never been in a carpet weaving mill before, so this was a real treat. Especially given that Ulster Carpets are not only the largest carpet manufacturers in the UK, but one of the top producers in the world.

I was taken inside the mill by David Acheson, the mill’s Head of Strategic Operations. Unfortunately, due to the unique patented technology that Ulster Carpets have introduced to their looms to make them more efficient, I was unable to take any photos. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was amazing!

The Ulster Carpets mill produces 40,000 metres of carpet per week, 70% of which goes outside of the UK. One of their biggest markets is casinos, so you can image the crazily patterned flooring that some of the looms were churning out.

The mill gets through 1.8 million kilos of wool every year, with 80% of the fibre being British wool. They have recently built a new dyehouse too, which uses some of the most up-to-date technology to dye the yarn, including robotised machinery. No one could ever say that the textile manufacturers of Northern Ireland were lacking in innovation!

Bridgedale socks made in Ireland

Bridgedale Socks

On day two of my tour I had the pleasure of visiting Bridgedale socks, an extremely modern sock factory in Newtownands, not far from Bangor. They’ve been knitting socks here since 1950, and are specialists in socks for the outdoor market.

I am astounded by the complexity that can go into producing a sock. For a start, several different yarns, such as Merino, polypropylene, nylon and Lycra, are twisted together so that each can be used to create a part of the sock with distinct properties. For instance, some areas may require cushioning, whilst others have a more open construction for ventilation. Plus there’s all the different colours that go into the sock’s design too.

Once the yarn is prepared it moves over to the circular knitting machines, of which there are 52 at Bridgedale. Each one spits out a fully finished sock in around 3 minutes and the factory produces 1.2 million socks a year.

After the knitting process each sock is applied to a strange looking upside-down flat leg, which takes it through a steaming chamber in order that it is ready to go into its packaging. After careful inspection to ensure that it meets the high quality expected of a Bridgedale sock it is then packaged and ready to be shipped.

Over 45 percent of Bridgedale’s socks end up on feet outside the UK, in 42 countries across the world. Each pair is guaranteed for three years, “but often last much, much longer” says the firm’s Director of Operations Jim Campbell.

The Irish linen industry and my textiles tour of Northern IrelandLast stop on my whirlwind tour of the textile manufacturers of Northern Ireland was Ulster Weavers. Despite the name, the 127 year old company has not woven cloth for many years. They moved into the home textile market in the 1960’s,  specialising at first in Irish linen tea towels. Over the years that have extended their product ranges to include all types of kitchen items.

Whilst Ulster Weavers no longer produce cloth in the UK, they do have a screen-printing facility in Northern Ireland and produce finished home textile products for both their own range as well as bespoke work for other clients.

So, that’s a brief summary of my textiles tour of Northern Ireland. I would love to go back, as there is so much more than could be seen in two days. There are still several shirt manufacturers there, as well as some wool weavers in Mourne that I would have liked to have got to.

I was also due to visit Wm Clark on this trip, the oldest textile business still in operation in Northern Ireland. But sadly the mill had a serious fire the day before I was due to arrive, and understandably they weren’t up for a visit. I do hope that they get back into operation soon, it would be devastating to see the business close down. But if all of the manufacturers that I met on my visit were anything to go by, it would take more than a fire to keep an Irish textile business to get them down!

Why is manufacturing her shoes in the UK important to Shaherazad, founder of Shoes by Shaherazad? And how do her heels empower women across the world? Find out in our interview with the inventor of the ’18 Hour Heels’

Shaherazad (centre) with some of the friends and family that have modelled her collection

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Shaherazad Umbreen, founder of Shoes by Shaherazad. In just a year since launching her business, Shaherazad has seen her comfortably yet stylish shoes grace the feet of everyone from Frances O’Connor to Alexa Chung and Jane Danson.

She tells us about why empowering women is at the heart of her brand, and why working with a UK factory was the only option for her

Shoes by Shaherazad

Shoes by Shaherazad

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you launched your brand?

I work in a very male dominated world heading up the marketing and PR for a big retailer. I had always had a great passion for shoes, and what fascinated me was how I saw women hobbling round the boardroom at work in uncomfortable heels. I thought “there must be a way of creating a comfortable shoe that is also stylish and looked nice” and so I set about creating the business in the evenings and at weekends, whilst still doing my day job.

What were some of the biggest challenges when setting up the brand?

I have a background in business but know nothing about design, so I went to the London College of Fashion at weekends and they helped me to develop the design element of the shoes.

shoes by Shaherazad

The shoes lined up and ready to have the heel applied

Why did you choose a factory in the UK to manufacture your shoes?

I looked at factories all over the world, but decided that the shoes needed to be made in the UK in order for the process to be manageable for me.  The quality had to be excellent and I knew that if they were made locally even if something went wrong I could easily put it right. It was also important that I worked with an ethical factory and the UK filled this criteria too.

You call your shoes ’18 Hour Heels’. How have you engineered them in the manufacturing stage in order that they can live up to this claim?

I worked very closely with the factory to get the fit of the shoes right. In the end the comfort is down to a combination of things – in terms of the heel we have engineered them so that there is more support and it distributes the body evenly. The shoe also has a rounded toe, and there is comfort padding inside too.

It took us over a year to get the strap right due to the variation in instep heights. Trials with the thickness of the leather, and where the stitching and magnet were placed were critical. But it was worth it, as over two thirds of our customers go on to make a repeat purchase. Proving the comfort claims are true!

shoes by shaherazad

The brand’s mission is stamped on the sole of the shoes

Can you tell us a little bit more about your 18 Hour Heels ‘boardroom to bar’ concept?

There’s two reasons.  Firstly, it’s because they’re so comfortable; so when you need to get through a long day you have some heels which will help you through.

Secondly, it’s because they’re designed so that they can be worn smart in the day and sparkling at night through the shoellery concept.

The jewelled straps were developed by my footwear factory and I have now taken the development a stage further with the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham using 3D printing and traditional metal bashing to create an 18 carat gold range.

shoes by shaherazad

The brands shoellery concept allows them to go from boardroom to bar

What percentage of your business is export?

About 40%. We have customers in the UAE, Australia, Germany and the USA. Plus, I recently did a launch event for our 18 carat gold range in Kuwait, and got to meet the Kuwaiti Royal Family.

shoes by shaherazad

Shaherazad in the UK factory

Your aim is to empower women through your shoes, could you explain how you do this?

We do this in several ways.

Firstly, through our partnership with GlobalGiving UK we give 10% of our profits to help educate disadvantaged women all over the world. In the last 12 months, 500 women and girls have gained an education due to donations that we have given and we know the stories of all of them.

My aim was for a woman who can afford to buy the shoes to help empower another female less fortunate than themselves. For instance, we’ve built this room with 6 sewing machines in Kenya so that women can learn how to sew and earn a living from making clothes.

Our philanthropic work is wholly inclusive and benefits women of all faiths and of non-faith. We are currently educating women and girls in Peru, Pakistan, Palestine and Kenya.  The brand’s aim is to be supporting women wherever there is poverty, including in developed nations such as the UK.   

We also empower women by being honest in the way that we represent body imagery. All of our brand materials use ‘real’ women, and by this we mean females who do not have their body shapes, textures or appearances altered in any way.  The brand photography promotes women who have no professional modelling experience. Instead their experience is in professional roles such as medicine, education, law and business so that we inspire women to be proud of who they are, how they think, and how they look. Brand models are chosen for their confidence and not their looks.

 We also encourage women to buy less and buy better through our shoe jewellery concept which ensures the heels can be worn for any desk to dance floor occasion.  

What’s next for Shoes by Sheherazad?

I’m now working with the factory on how we can build the comfort into an even higher heel, plus a flat shoe is on the cards too.

You can find out more about Shoes by Sheherazad here.

This weeks Facebook Live covered everything from whether there was any support from the Government for UK manufacturers, to beauty brands and eco-packaging. Below is the transcription of the show.

Hello everyone, welcome to the Ask Kate Live Facebook Q&A. I’m Kate Hills, I am the founder of Make It British, we do this weekly Live Facebook Q&A at one o’clock every Thursday where I answer your questions on buying British and working with UK manufacturers. 

British-made Beauty Brands

Today we are talking about British made beauty brands; we’re answering a question about eco-packaging from last week; we’ve got some interesting information about buttons made in the UK; and also helping someone who wants to find leather manufacturers in London.  So welcome to everyone that’s joined.

I’ll kick off by talking about British made beauty brands. 

Every week we put a call out on our Instagram asking people to recommend products on a certain topic and this week we covered beauty brands.  We’ve had lots of response, and we’ve started adding them to the site. So do pop over to the Make it British website and you’ll see our list of top 20 beauty brands. 

It was great to be able to find so many skincare brands that are made here. We could do with a few more make-up brands, so if anyone does know of where any make-up is made in the UK please let us know.  And if you do have a beauty brand and you’re watching this please add something in the comments below about your brand and we’ll add you to the article.

British-made Eco Packaging

Another item that I want to cover today is a question we had from Elizabeth Rees last week, who was asking where you could get eco-packaging from.  I said I’d go away and do some research on this and I realised it’s a much more complex area than I initially thought because there’s all different types of packaging. You can have board, paper, textiles, wood, so I need a little bit more information in order to answer this question thoroughly.  But I’ve already spoken to a couple of great packaging people who say they do have eco options.

One of those is Elite Labels who offer a big packaging service. They’re based in Leicester and they work with a lot of different garment brands.  They are able to offer eco-packaging, depending on the type of packaging you want. 

And also another company called Progress Packaging who make beautiful packaging, very high end for a lot of designers and they also are able to offer eco options.  But Elizabeth, if you are watching and you have got some more details of exactly what it is you’re looking for please type it in the comments or get back to me and I will give further details on this next week.

But what I am going to do this week straight after I publish this live video to our Facebook page, I’m going to put all the contacts in the comments straightaway so you’ll have the contacts there for Elite Labels and Progress Packaging.

 

British-made packaging

There are several UK packaging suppliers, many of which can make boxes in recycled materials

 

Embossing / Printing on Knitwear

The next thing I want to talk to you about today is an enquiry from a company called Ushiwear – they were looking for a manufacturer that can emboss onto knitwear.  Now so far I’ve hit a little bit of a wall with actually embossing on knitwear but I have found a very good company who can print onto knitwear with loads of very innovative techniques.  They’re called Faering, they’re based in Leicester and I certainly think that Ushiwear, if you are watching, it would be worth contacting Faering to find out if they can also work on an embossing technique for you.  And again I will put the contact details for Faering in the comments afterwards.  So Ushiwear, I hope that helps, if you’ve got some more details of the sort of embossing that you want then I will further look into this for you and try and come back to you again next week.

Lauren, have we got any questions?

We’ve got a question from Sarah, is the government offering help to produce garments in England?

Ooh, that’s a good question, is the government offering help to companies that want to produce in the UK?  Currently no, there’s no direct help. I know there’s a lot of people that are now discussing this in light of Brexit and what the government’s industrial policy may be, and hopefully this is one of the things that will be covered.

Will there be certain tax breaks for people that manufacture in the UK? Will big companies that claim that they’re very British be required to manufacture a certain percentage of their products here?  This is all being discussed at the moment at government level. I try not to get too involved in politics, but if find anything more about this I will let you know Sarah. 

So the answer is – unfortunately no, there’s no tax breaks or any special help for people that manufacture in the UK – I wish there was.

Lauren, any other questions?

That’s the only question but Maggie Quinney has given us a thumbs up.

Hello Maggie, actually I’ll give a little shout to Maggie because I’ve just been speaking to Maggie via messaging on Facebook and I understand she’s just set up a garment manufacturers in Hinckley in Leicestershire. She makes all sorts of jersey products, activewear, sportswear – so if you are looking for a jersey or sportswear manufacturer do get in touch with Maggie.  I know she’s a member of our Buy British Community so you can reach out to her on there. 

Leather Manufacturers in London

The final question was from a leather company that manufacturers leather products in the UK. They want to find another manufacturer for leather bags based in London. 

I’ve got a couple of suggestions for this. The first one is Seipel, they are part of the Alma Home business,. They’re based in East London and they have a small manufacturing unit and can make small order quantities of leather goods. 

There’s another company in East London owned by a chap called Jas Sehmbi. He makes a great bag, particularly a more casual style bag. He actually has his own collection as well and then he manufacturers for other people.  Again I’ll put Jas’ details in the notes at the bottom, he is based in East London too. You can contact Jas here.

So I hope those two manufacturers can be of help.  Leathergoods is one of the things that I get more enquiries about than anything els. If you are looking for a particular type of manufacturer and I can’t answer your question in depth here, I do offer a service to help people find manufacturers, there is a small fee for that but for that I can dedicate proper time to you and to find exactly the sort of manufacturer you’re looking for for your product.  Here’s a link for looking for a UK manufacturer which gives you some more details about how that service works.

seipel leather

Seipel are one of a handful of leather manufacturers in London

Are there any more questions Lauren?

Yes – Sarah’s asked another question as well, she’s looking to make a range of t-shirts and is looking for high quality fabrics and print factories.

If you are looking to make some t-shirts in the UK – I am working on a project at the moment about how much it costs to make a T-shirt in the UK, and how that’s broken down according to the cost of the fabric and the style of the garment.  It’s not one of the cheapest items to make in the UK, but you can certainly can get good quality T-shirts made here. 

The company that we’re working with to compile the details about making T-shirts in the UK is called Discovery Knitting. I know Simon Cook from Discovery Knitting is part of our Buy British Group and there has been some discussions already in that group about where to find fabric printing companies and people to make jerseywear.  So Sarah, it might be worth joining, if you’re not already, and if you do a search within the group for printers you’ll find there’s been a fantastic thread about fabric printers in the UK.

You should also come to our Meet the Manufacturer show if you are looking for UK manufacturers or British-made products to stock in your stores. The yearly trade show is on the 24th and the 25th of May and it’s at the Truman Brewery in London.

We’ve just opened registration over on the meetthemanufacturer.co.uk website. It’s a fantastic event for networking and finding UK manufacturers, and we’ve got lots of free talks this year on all different subjects to do with making in the UK.

Kayleigh’s also asked for the Meet the Manufacturer event, does your business have to be officially registered to get a ticket?

It is a good question Kayleigh. It’s a business-to-business show so ideally you would have a registered business, but at the very very least in order to attend you need business cards if nothing else. You need those business cards to be able to give to all the fantastic manufacturers that you’re going to find at the show.  It’s a really busy show, and we only have 180, 200 exhibitors and with 5,000 visitors those exhibitors are mobbed.  If you want them to take you seriously and think about making your orders you need something to be able to give to them so that they actually have some way of getting back to you after the show.  So if nothing else please make sure you’ve got business cards printed and then we won’t charge you to get in.  I hope that’s clear.

One last thing, lovely Edith Weekes-Hamilton has said keep up the fabulous work.

Oh hello Edith, hello, hopefully we’ll see you at the show again this year, Edith.  Fantastic, right, well thank you very much everyone for joining.  Is there anyone else that wants a shout out before we go or if not I can drink the rest of my cup of tea and get on with all the important work that we do at Make It British?

I hope you enjoyed our Facebook Live, we do this every Thursday at 1pm. Please do send us your comments, we’d love to know what you think.  In particular, it’d be great if you’ve got an idea for a top 20 you’d like us to do. So far we’ve covered – beauty, dog brands, children’s and babywear and wool. If you’ve got an idea for something you’d like to see in our top 20 please let us know  because they’re proving incredibly popular and we want to make sure that we cover every single aspect of UK-made products.

The eagled-eyed amongst you might have noticed that I promised to cover British-made buttons at the beginning and then forgot all about them! Don’t worry, I am going to cover them in depth next week!

Here’s the transcription for last week’s Facebook Live. In it we cover exhibiting at a trade show, where to go for start-up fashion advice and an update on the registration for our Meet the Manufacturer event

Sorry it has taken me a while to get this online this week due to half term.

Our Facebook live takes place every Thursday on the Make it British Facebook page at 1pm.

It’s you chance to ask questions about UK manufacturing, buying British and making in the UK. If you’ve got a question to submit please do so via the live chat on our website, send us a tweet, send a message via our Facebook page or even DM us on Instagram.

Today we’ve got quite a few questions to answer, particularly we seem to be getting a lot of questions from people that  have their own businesses, so we are here to help you answer questions about that. We’ve also had a manufacturer get in touch saying that they’re looking for staff for their factory so I’ll be covering that, and I’ll be telling you about all of the fantastic British made gifts and we can recommend for Valentine’s Day.

I’m also talking about where you can go as a start-up if you want to get information about setting up a fashion brand and also tips on exhibiting for the first time at a trade fair.

So firstly, if you haven’t got your loved one a gift yet we are compiling a top 10 of the best British made Valentine’s gifts. We put a call out on our Instagram page asking for suggestions for gifts made in the UK that would make a fantastic Valentine’s present. Please pop over to the Instagram post, find the post with the big pink heart on it and we will consider your British made gift for inclusion in the Valentine’s post that we’ll be running tomorrow. So, you’ve got about another 24 hours to add something to that and we will then be selecting our 12 favourite gifts, so that’s the Make It British Valentine’s post.

While we’re on the subject of what’s going on over at the website, we have several fantastic competitions that are running at the moment. We do these regularly to help tell everyone about the sort of products that are made here and give you an opportunity to win something fabulous at the same time. Currently we’ve got a fantastic leather washbag from Abreption, we have got some underwear from Unibu and also a piece of jewellery from Magnus & Bella. On Instagram we’re running a competition just this week and it closes tomorrow night, to win a silk British made pocket square from Geoff Stocker which he has done in collaboration with Grey Fox, so it’s the perfect thing for any dapper gent, so do pop over and enter that too.

So welcome if you’ve just joined us, if you are watching and you want us to give a shout out about your brand and what you do type something in the comments and that’s why I’ve got my glasses on, I can hopefully read it, and I will give you a little shout out. 

So it’s early days of this Make It British video thing and we are finding there’s a few technical hitches, we do need a more professional setup here but unfortunately space doesn’t allow us to have a full-time Facebook Live studio! So, for the moment we’re temporarily mocking it up every Thursday with our lovely Moon blanket in the background.

Anyway, the next thing I wanted to cover was that Ronin Jewellery got in touch just to say can you give us a shout out, they are exhibiting at Spring Fair at the moment and it’s the last day at the show today. I know there’s quite a few companies that manufacture in the UK who are exhibiting there, so we wanted to say if you are at the show today pop over and see Ronin Jewellery.

If you are the sort of person who has a business who exhibits at trade fairs or who is interested in exhibiting at a trade fair, we have had someone ask what sort of things do you need to know if it’s your first time exhibiting at a fair.  So having been to many trade fairs myself over the last 20 years firstly as a buyer, also as an exhibitor for brands that I worked with, and now running our Meet the Manufacturer trade show, I’ve pulled together some top tips of things you need to know about exhibiting at a show. The tips apply to someone that’s showing for the first time, as well as if you’re an experienced exhibitor.

The main thing I would say is how important it is to always smile if you are standing on a stand at a trade show, even if your feet are killing you, you’re really uncomfortable, you’ve been there for four days and it’s getting a bit monotonous, just smile and you’re much more likely to attract people to your stand.  I always know which exhibitors are going to say “we didn’t have a very good show” because it’ll be the ones that have been sitting behind a desk, and not interacting with people, because it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new customers, get out there and get exposure for your brand.

Next I’m going to cover a manufacturer that we know in Manchester called Porters of Manchester, they’ve got a small manufacturing unit, I visited it, it’s fantastic, there’s about six ladies there machining and they are looking for a pattern cutter. They’re based in Central Manchester, so if you are a pattern cutter looking for some extra work and you’re watching this or you know someone who might be interested or who lives locally then please do get in touch.  

And while I’m on that subject I thought actually this could be a great forum, if you do have a factory, a manufacturing unit, a brand, a studio and you are looking for someone to join you then we reach quite a wide audience with this Facebook page so please let us know, feel free to join our Buy British community group and post something in there.  We’re more than happy to spread the word, if you make in the UK we will help you find someone if you’re looking for someone to work with you.

Welcome to all those that have joined us, please do say hello in the comments and I will give you a shout out, I can see we’ve got quite a few people who’ve joined us now, don’t be shy, say hello.

I should say here that if you have just joined us for the first time and you think what is that woman harping on about, this is my weekly slot every Thursday at 1pm to answer your questions about making in the UK, and buying British.  We generally answer questions that people have given us via our Twitter, Facebook page, Buy British community, live on our website or email us, so send us in a question if you want it answered or if there’s a topic you want us to cover and I will endeavour to cover it the following week. 

Hello, I’ve just seen there’s a note from Victoria @wearerushworth, hello Victoria and hello to Jo Storie Hand Knits,  we’ve got a bit of a knitting theme going on today.  Talking of which, while we’re talking about knitting and all things woolly I did a fantastic interview just this week with Laura from Laura’s Loom. She had a great story – she told us all about how she starts from the fleece and how that process goes from fleece to yarn to finished product, be that knitwear or weaving. So if you do want to find out a little bit more about the whole knitting and yarn process I highly recommend reading the interview that we did with Laura.

Someone else asked us this week, we did a Make It British forum last October and they asked when we were doing the next one.  Now the forum, the last we did was held in Leicester, and it was entitled How to Develop a Made in Britain Brand. It was completely packed out, it was a fantastic day and I think everyone really enjoyed the networking that took part at the show. So we are going to do another one.  We’re already planning where we might do that, it will be somewhere other than London in the UK, if you’ve got a particular suggestion of an area where you’d like that to take place then put it in the comments or send us a message, we’ve got some ideas but it will be October of this year and it’ll be along a similar theme, so yes there is another Make It British forum coming up. 

But if in the meantime, you are looking to develop a fashion brand and want advice on then there are several places that I can recommend to go.

Firstly there is the UK Fashion and Textile Association, they run masterclasses on fashion and product development. There’s also Fashion Angel who are a fantastic company who support start-ups and people going into fashion businesses. 

There’s also Fashion Capital. They have a factory in London, they offer lots of advice to small businesses related to fashion and starting a fashion brand and they’re also doing an event  in Manchester on the 30th March and you can find out more here.

And then finally just if you are a general brand starting out, I think Enterprise Nation is a fantastic resource. It’s not that much to become a member and they lots of things that you can get involved with to find out more about starting a small business.  Brilliant!

Okay, has anyone got any particular questions for me today, I think I’ve covered most of the questions that we’ve had coming through this week, have I missed any out Lauren?

I don’t think so, we have had a lot of people asking about registration for our event.

We run our Meet the Manufacturer trade show once a year in May at the Truman Brewery in London, the registration will be opening tomorrow (it’s now open and you can register here). The good news about this year’s show is it is entirely free, so in the past we have had free entry to the trade show and then a conference running at the same time that you could buy a ticket for, but this year all of the talks will be completely and utterly free and you can drop in at any time. 

I’ve just seen we’ve got a question coming through from Elizabeth Rees, ‘I’m looking for an eco-packaging business,’ oh that’s a good question Elizabeth. I know quite a few packaging businesses, how many of them are eco I’m not so sure, so I will check that out Elizabeth and I will come back to you on that next week. 

I’ve got one more question from Victoria, ‘Re trade shows, I’ve noticed lots of people don’t display their prices openly for buyers, what’s best practice?

That is a good question, I don’t think that our exhibitors for the most part will display their prices when they come to the show. The manufacturers we have at our show are generally contract manufacturers so the price that they quote will be based on the specific product that you order. If you’re a brand coming to the show then generally I think buyers do expect you to have a price list available, or have a good indication of what the prices are. Although I wouldn’t suggest that you would price up individual products at the show.  So it is always wise to know what your prices are in advance I would say, yes.  Does that help Victoria, I hope it does?

Well thank you everyone for joining today, I think that’s pretty much everything I wanted to cover, please do join us every week and don’t feel shy, do ask a question, thank you to Victoria and Elizabeth who asked questions today, Elizabeth I’ll come back to you on the question that you asked. 

We’re here every Thursday, one o’clock give or take a minute or twos technical hitch while we set up, so please bear with us and if you are finding this useful please do let me know, write something in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Right thank you very much everyone for joining us and I will see you again next week.  This has been Kate Hills from Make It British doing Ask Kate Live Q&A on Facebook every Thursday at 1pm, thank you.

Our Meet the Manufacturer trade show is even bigger and better this year, with more manufacturers than ever before and an exciting new hall dedicated to British brands

Meet the Manufacturer brand hall

Meet the Manufacturer is the only trade show to find British fashion, textile & homeware manufacturers all in one place

British made goods are enjoying a revival and demand for home-produced goods is on the rise, as shown by a survey that we carried out recently. UK manufacturers are reporting increases in production of 25-30% compared to 2015, and this growing appetite for all that’s made in Britain will be reflected in our Meet the Manufacturer trade show this year.

We’ve been inundated with enquiries since our last event from people not only looking for manufacturers to help them make their product in the UK, but also from buyers who would like to source from brands that are making in Britain.  That’s why we’re introducing a new Make it British Brand Hall at our next event.

For the first time, Meet the Manufacturer is giving a selection of these creative businesses the opportunity to showcase their distinct and inspirational labels in a dedicated ‘brands hall’.  Companies include: Geoff Stocker, producing high-end accessories for men; Isabella Queen, a British-based brand offering luxury leather accessories crafted in London; Wild Things, creating imaginative play clothes for children hand-made in the UK and Unibu, producing unique underwear that’s 100% made in Britain.

Meet the Manufacturer is the only sourcing event exclusively for British fashion, textiles and homeware.  The two-day event includes a trade show, with over 180 exhibitors, and a series of workshops, connecting manufacturers of textiles, apparel and leather goods with buyers, designers and retailers looking to produce quality British-made products.

The show will take place at The Old Truman Brewery in London again, and the dates this year are 25th and 26th May 2017.

For more information visit www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

MTM2017

MTM2017 will be bigger and better than ever this year!

Trade shows are one of the best ways to get exposure for your business, and a great opportunity to network too. Yet many companies feel daunted at the prospect of exhibiting at a trade show for the first time.

Having attended dozens of shows myself – as a visitor and exhibitor, and now as an event organiser with our Meet the Manufacturer show, I’ve picked up quite a few insights along the way. So if you are exhibiting at a trade show for the first time, don’t be worried, they’re a piece of cake once you have these tips at hand…

tips for exhibiting at a trade show

Trade Shows are a great way to get exposure for your business

The look of your stand should be your top priority You don’t have to spend a fortune, but a little pre-planning is essential. Making sure you know the exact dimensions of the stand, including the height of the walls, will mean no nasty surprises when you arrive. Try mocking something up in your office or studio beforehand too, using tape on the floor to mark out the space. And plan where everything is going to go.

When it comes to display, less is more. Visitors will want to see the quality of your products and get a feel for what you do. It’s not a shop, and you don’t need every item in every colour.

Make sure to leave enough floorspace for visitors to fit in, and use the walls for displaying your best product at eye level. Think about using colour on the walls too – when everyone is in a sea of white shell scheme a vivid pink wall will get you noticed.

top tips for exhibiting at a trade show

Use the walls of your stand to display products at eye level

Promote your attendance at the show in advance Send emails or personal invitations to your customers a few weeks in advance to let them know that you are going to be at the fair. Take this opportunity to tell them which stand you are in, and ideally try and get them to fix an appointment with you.

Also use this opportunity to reach out to buyers and press you’d like to meet by inviting them see you there and sending them something that gives a small taster of what you will be showing.

And don’t forget to send a reminder a few days before the show to make sure your guests have it in their diary – schedule this in advance in case you don’t have time to do it in the days running up to the show

Be Social Find out what hashtag the event is using and tag in the show in your social media posts in order to make it easy for them to shout about you as an exhibitor. This is also a good way of making the most of a wider audience that you can reach, above and beyond those already in your network.

Keep up with a few social media posts during the show too if you can – photos and videos of your booth looking enticing may be spotted by someone at the show following the hashtag and help you connect with someone that may not otherwise have come your way.

visiting at a trade show

Planning in advance to get the most out of your attendance

Produce a press release to maximise your exposure Make sure you have an up to date press release to coincide with your attendance at the show. Give a copy to the event’s press office and let them have high res images of your products to hand in case they get any requests from journalists in the run up to the show. You’d be amazed at how many exhibitors don’t take advantage of this – it could be a great way to get an edge over any competitors at the show.

Smile and look happy The most successful exhibitors at our shows are always the ones that keep smiling non-stop for two days, even when their feet are killing them. Think about your body language and what signals you are giving off if you’re standing there cross-armed and looking bored. Be welcoming and friendly at all times, and chat to as many people as you possibly can.

If you’re a shy, creative type then consider roping in a friend or family member who is more outgoing than you to do the talking at the front – but make sure you’ve de-briefed them beforehand so they know their stuff and what they should be saying.

exhibiting at a trade fair

Look happy on your stand and new customers will come your way!

Giveaways or demonstrations on the stand are a great ice-breaker Running a special promotion just for the event can be a great conversation opener, as well as a good way of gathering the contact details of passers-by. But please, no tacky printed pens/USB sticks/and other Chinese-made giveaways!

And some sort of interactive display is always a great option for attracting people to your stand. Exhibitors at our Meet the Manufacturer show have had great success by bringing along a staff member from their factory that can make something on the stand on the day – this makes for great social media coverage too (see point about above being social).

Have a plan for capturing the details of leads Many shows now supply a mobile app which you can use to scan visitors that come to your stand. You can make notes within the app and then download a spreadsheet with everyone’s details when you’ve left the show – beats lots of loose business cards that might get mislaid in the panic to pack up. It also saves you typing everyone’s details in too. And while you’re at it – make sure you take enough business cards yourself so you don’t run out mid-show.

exhibiting at a trade show

Networking with other exhibitors should be an important part of your trade show strategy

It’s about networking, not just selling Use your time at the show to make new business connections as well as to find new customers. Chat to other exhibitors – you never know when a future collaboration could be in the pipeline. And don’t dismiss those that aren’t just buyers. Trade shows are attended by the press, bloggers and other influential people that could benefit your business by increased exposure or connections. So seize every opportunity and don’t just think of it in terms of revenue. And if there’s an after-show party for exhibitors make sure that you attend with lots of business cards – the social time when everyone is relaxing is often when the best business is done.

Follow up with everyone you met after the show It’s important to send an email within a couple of days of the event thanking those that came to your stand while you’re fresh in their minds. Keep in touch but don’t be too pushy. It can often take months or years for some trade show leads to develop into a business relationship, so don’t be disheartened if orders don’t materialise straightway.

I hope you found this article useful. If you’d like to print off a handy PDF of these tips then please fill in your email below and we’ll send one to you.

I was invited on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show today to talk about the announcement of the Government’s green paper on its industrial strategy

Firstly, anything that brings UK manufacturing to the forefront can only be a good thing. So we’re definitely moving in the right direction. But what are the big things that the Government needs to address in this industrial strategy in order to make British manufacturing great again?

Skills & training One of the biggest things that needs serious funding behind it is the lack of skilled staff in many manufacturing sectors. One of the biggest problems facing the UK manufacturing industry is the fact many sectors currently look to Europe for the staff that have the skills – and that may not be so easy after Brexit. We’ll need to invest in training and make sure that the funding goes directly to those that need it – not just on creating courses that aren’t relevant.

Attracting young people into manufacturing We need to make manufacturing sexy again to attract young people into the industry. The next generation will be the factory managers of the future. But unless we can convince them that it is better to work in manufacturing than in an office or a shop we’ll have no chance. And that education needs to start at school and with the parents. I also think that a reality TV show involving manufacturing wouldn’t be a bad thing…but that’s not one for the Government! Manufacturing is not just in the North Yes the Industrial Revolution started in the North, and there are some fantastic manufacturing plants in the top half of the country. But there are also some great factories and makers in the South too. The high-end fashion manufacturing sector, which supplies the majority of London Fashion Week, is predominantly based in London. These companies have different challenges to those in the North, such as rising rent and rates, and they shouldn’t be forgotten about because they don’t make up part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Fair trade deals with overseas suppliers Let’s not forget that a vast proportion of the raw materials that our manufacturers use are imported. There are very few products that can count themselves as 100% British. Good negotiations with our overseas suppliers needs to be top of the Government’s Brexit strategy in order that industry here can thrive. It’s not just about the shiny boys toys All too often when there is talk of industry with the Government they talk about cars and planes. But manufacturing has a softer side too. The UK textile industry exported over £8bn worth of product last year. Yet because it is made up of 1000s of micro businesses employing 10 people or less, it doesn’t get on the Government’s radar. Let’s hope there is a place for it in their industrial strategy.

You can see the full green paper on the Government’s industrial strategy here.

20 of the best British baby brands

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When it comes to British baby brands there are so many great companies out there producing in the UK. Why would you ever want to buy something that wasn’t made here?

Thanks to our friends on Instagram we’ve put together a list of the best British baby brands out there.

Although we originally called this ’10 of the best British baby brands’ we have had to double it as there were just too many amazing brands to choose from!

Pigeon Organics for Kids

Gentle organic babywear in a range of unique prints. Pigeon’s capsule Made in England collections are produced in rural Nottinghamshire by a small family-run factory.

Peacheyboo

Peacheyboo

Buttery soft cotton babygrows in cute signature prints are the handwriting of Peacheyboo.

The Bowtique

The Bowtique Bows

The Bowtique’s stunning hair accessories are all lovingly made by hand. Any little princess wearing this will be the talk of the nursery.

The Princess and The Frock

The Princess and the Frock

Any little girl would be the belle of the ball in a handmade party dress by Princess and The Frock. They now have a jersey collection too.

eva & indie

Eva and Indie

Kitsch unisex prints are the signature of Eva and Indie and every piece is handmade to order.

Didi and Bud

Didi and Bud

‘Mini Gents’ and ‘Modern Ladies’ are how Didi and Bud describe the toddlers wearing their adorable sleepsuits.

Morrck

Morrck

Morrck make car seat blankets with a hood – what a great idea!

Bubbabibs

Bubbabibs

Handmade baby bibs for every occasion! Beautifully soft and comfortable on baby’s delicate skin.

B & Button

B & Button

Lovingly created, bespoke designs for baby and toddler. Handmade and personalised in the U.K.

The Little Style House

The Little Style House

On trend unisex clothing designed by Anna, mum of two. Stay cool. Be bold. Dress modern.

Beb and Ooo

Beb and Ooo

Fun, colourful, practical and individual clothing that can be worn by girls or boys.

William and the Wolf

William and the Wolf

Contemporary clothing and diverse and unisex children’s accessories, handmade in Bristol. The Wolf pack welcome customise requests!

Baby Acorn

 

Baby Acorn

Unisex baby wear that isn’t always neutral or beige! With 5 woodland themes that can be mixed and matched for  bespoke newborn look.

Tommy and Lottie

Tommy and Lottie

Anyone else got outfit envy? UK based baby boutique and lifestyle brand Tommy and Lottie are big on ethics and sustainability too. Trendy with a conscious!

Brora Cashmere

Brora Cashmere

Don’t all babies deserve the softness of cashmere? Brora baby cashmere comes in a selection of classic and contemporary designs.

Hello Mum 

Hello Mum Gifts

Beautifully packaged stylish and comfortable baby clothes from Hello Mum make the perfect gift for a new mummy.

The Great British Baby Company

The Great British Baby Company

Luxury apparel and accessories for young children, using the finest British materials and craftsmanship.

Starchild Shoes

Starchild Shoes

Soft enough for the tinniest of feet the only problem you will find is trying to choose from all the gorgeous designs!

Bush Boo Baby & Kids

Bush Boo Baby and Kids

Quality children’s clothing and accessories made in Yorkshire!

Wildthings

Wildthings

Long term favourites of ours these are such individual and well made children’s clothes!

Did we leave anyone out of our list of the best British baby brands? If so, please tell us about them in the comments below.

The founder of cult knitwear brand FANCLUB tells us why she thinks provenance is important to her customers and how she overcame the challenge of finding knitwear suppliers that could work with her low minimums as she started out

Aysen Bayram, founder of FANCLUB

Aysen Bayram, founder of FANCLUB in her studio

It’s been a fantastic year for FANCLUB – Glamour magazine called them ‘one of the coolest knitwear labels to know’ and their Kimye sweater containing a mash up of celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s faces took Christmas jumpers by storm.

We caught up with Aysen Bayram, the maker behind the label, to find out a bit more about what drives her brand.

Can you tell us a little about your background and what experience you had in knitwear before launching FANCLUB?

I call myself a 3rd generation maker. My grandmother and aunts were seamstresses on (aptly named) Fashion Street off Brick Lane and my parents used to own a factory in East London in the early 80’s. They manufactured for Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and other high street brands but were forced to close when retailers began taking their manufacturing off-shore. My mother was a professional dressmaker and I grew up watching her pattern cut and sew, it clearly rubbed off on me as I started making my own clothes at age 12.

I studied BA Fashion with Textiles Design at Ravensbourne, graduating in 2003. Post-graduation I worked for Ally Capellino as Design Assistant. I quickly became Production Manager working with mainly British suppliers and manufacturers and it was there I learnt about the production process. I relocated to Amsterdam to work for Tommy Hilfiger and rekindled my love of knitwear as Menswear Knitwear Designer. In 2010 I moved back to London, resurrected my knitting machines and set up Knitster LDN, a knit design and consultancy studio before setting up FANCLUB.

Why did you decide to set up Fan Club and where did you get the idea for the name from?

FANCLUB was the natural evolution of a personal project I was working on; I was creating knitted animal portraits and a jumper seemed to be the next step. It was definitely something that was on the cards for me, especially seeing the effect the decline of British manufacturing had on the family business. The name comes from a scene in a ‘gentleman’s nightclub’ from the film Buffalo 66.

Rabbit Pixel Crew Sweater Fanclub

Where do you get the inspiration from for your designs?

It comes from so many places, mostly mundane things – like the distorted reflection of colour in a silver balloon. My iPhone is full of random images which piece themselves together as the collection evolves. Trial and error is also one, there are so many trials when developing knit swatches that the mistakes tend to spark new ideas. The problem is trying to re-create those mistakes.

Your sweaters are not only knitted in the UK but they are made using British yarns too. What extra value do you think this gives your customers?

I like to call it ‘double provenance’. Consumer awareness within the fashion industry is growing (especially with the collapse of Rana Plaza) – whether that concerns working conditions or sustainability, customers want to know the history of that product.

In my opinion, the origin of the material/yarn is of equal importance as to where the end product is made. British mills are an important part of our industry and the manufacturer has just as equal a responsibility to support these businesses as the consumer does to the retailer.

All our yarn suppliers have been running since the 1800’s, with one J.C Rennie, dating as far back as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And Z. Hinchliffe & Sons are a 6th generation family-run business. It’s such a big part of our British heritage, it would be far too sad to lose these.

Loop Pixel Crop Sweater Fanclub

Loop Pixel Crop Sweater Fanclub

Many of your sweaters use a technique called hand-laid intarsia, can you explain what this to those that might not be know?

Intarsia is a technique used when knitting multiple colours. It differs to other knit techniques such as Fair Isle as there are no floats (or strands) carried at the back of the knitting so the result is a finer fabric. In hand-laid intarsia the knitter works from a grid which maps out the artwork stitch for stitch. For each block of colour the yarn is laid over the desired number of needles, this can be up to any number per row, we have 10 colours per row on our Banana Pixel Sweater. Once the row is complete the carriage is pulled across the needle bed and the stitches are knitted in. This is then repeated on every row – it’s a lengthy process, especially as some jumpers can have anything up to 400 rows.

What has been the most challenging thing so far with launching the brand?

Definitely sourcing factories who can meet low minimums. We’ve been lucky enough to work with Xpose in Manchester who were willing to lower their minimums in order help support our growth.

Kimye Sweater by Fanclub

Kimye Sweater by Fanclub

Can you tell me what ‘made in Britain’ means to you?

‘Made in Britain’ is about the heritage of skill and craftsmanship along with sustaining manufacturing within the British Isle.

COLOUR ME BADD!! Loving these nylon sock yarns madeinbritain knitwear socks yarn colour yarnstash

A photo posted by FANCLUB (@wearefanclub) on


Quickfire Questions

British personality (alive or dead) that you would most like to meet? David Bowie

Your Favourite British-made brand? Tunnock’s. Pure nostalgia.

Most-loved place in the UK? The Peak District. Simply breathtaking.

British drink that you most enjoy? You can’t beat a good old cup of tea!

Most inspiring British maker or manufacturer? The Albion Knitting Company are doing some very exciting things with bringing back knitwear manufacturing to London at the moment.

J.C. Rennie, The Albion Knitting Company and Xpose are amongst the manufacturers exhibiting at this year’s Meet the Manufacturer event. If you’re looking set up your own knitwear brand why not come along and meet them?

You can find FANCLUB and buy their knitwear here.

A photo posted by FANCLUB (@wearefanclub) on

Looking for a product made in Britain? Have a UK manufacturing question? I’ll solve your UK sourcing problems every Thursday lunchtime live on Facebook!

I hope you’re enjoying the Buy British Community that we’ve set up on Facebook? Please join if you aren’t already a member – it’s a pretty active group and a great place to meet other people interested in buying and making products made in Britain.

Talking of Facebook*, I wanted to tell you about another exciting new feature that we’re adding.

After listening to all your fantastic questions about finding manufacturers or sourcing certain products that are made in Britain, I thought it would be great to provide a forum where I could answer them live for you.

So every Thursday at 1pm I’ll be going LIVE on Facebook with a Q&A. Answering all your questions about UK manufacturing and making in Britain.

You can tune in to the Q&A every Thursday lunchtime at 1pm by visiting our Make it British Facebook page. If you already ‘like’ our page you’ll get a notification as we go on air. But don’t worry if you miss it as you’ll be able to catch up with the broadcast later via our page or on this blog.

Got a question you want to ask?

Want to find out if it’s possible to get a certain product made in the UK?

Want to know where you can buy a particular type of product made here?

Want some advice on British manufacturing?

You can submit a question via the live chat or contact form on this website, via the Buy British Community group on Facebook or even send us a tweet.

Don’t forget to tune in – Every Thursday 1pm LIVE on facebook.com/makeitbritish/

Business is booming for UK textile manufacturers, but the skills shortage is still holding it back, according to Make it British research carried out exclusively for the BBC

Make it British on BBC Breakfast

Make it British on BBC Breakfast announcing the results of the survey

Our research into the UK textile industry, carried out exclusively for the BBC Breakfast Business News, was announced today. We surveyed nearly 100 UK garment and textile manufacturers to find out how their businesses are faring as we prepare to enter 2017.

While the fashion manufacturing industry in the UK faces many challenges in the current economic climate, the Make it British survey found that business is booming for many textile businesses.

45% of manufacturers surveyed said that business was up on last year, with many manufacturers reporting increases in production of 25-50%  compared to 2015.

Of the 95 UK textile manufacturers taking part in the survey, 30% said they were receiving more enquiries now than prior to the EU Referendum, but that they were being hit by rising costs for raw materials, many of which are imported from the EU.

Around half (47%) said that finding skilled staff was the biggest barrier to further growth while 39% blamed lack of support from Government.

When asked: ‘How positive do you feel about the future of UK textile manufacturing?’ the answer was on average 3.75 on a scale of 1 to 5. A very positive result, and a great outlook for 2017.

The survey results were broadcast live from John Smedley, the oldest manufacturing factory in the world. Kate Hills from Make it British appeared alongside Ian Maclean, Managing Director of John Smedley, Shailina Parti, buying and merchandising director from Jigsaw, and Mick Cheema of Leicester garment manufacturer Basic Premier.

 

Why authenticity is important to us

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…and why Make it British is not affiliated with any other ‘made in Britain’ campaigns…

Make it British campaign authenticI was recently contacted by a web developer, prospecting for some business. His pitch was that he’d been through the code on the Make it British site and found the name of a developer who was not based in the UK. How could I shout about UK skills and making in Britain when I was using someone offshore to build my website? he said. The truth is that the Make it British website IS built in the UK, by a lovely chap based in Horsham, and the web hosting company is also British. Their web servers are in the UK too.

I believe 100% that you have to practice what you preach. The web hosting company that I use is definitely more expensive than a lot of the offshore ones, but they provide a quality service, and I would be stupid to host a site called Make it British in the US!

[ctt template=”1″ link=”r2e92″ via=”no” ]”I believe 100% that you have to practice what you preach” Kate Hills, @makeitbritish[/ctt]

The same goes for what I wear.

Now I’m not saying that everything I own is made in Britain. For a start, some things you just can’t buy here. Women’s heeled boots for instance. But I would certainly never dream of appearing at an event or on a video where I am representing Make it British without wearing clothes that are from some of the wonderful British-made brands that I want to support.

How could I call myself a fan of all things British-made if I didn’t then put my money where my mouth is. That would be very hypocritical!

Yes it is sometimes more expensive to buy something made in the UK, but I opt for timeless pieces that I know will last. I’ve got John Smedley knitwear in my wardrobe that I bought with my first pay cheque when I worked at Marks and Spencer in 1997 and it is still going strong.

I started Make it British in 2011 because I had a passion to save UK manufacturing, born out of a love for people making things and a desire to continue that tradition in the UK.

When I set Make it British up most people thought I was mad as they thought UK manufacturing was on its last legs. How are you ever going to make any money out of doing that? They said. Well the truth is I don’t make much, but I believe in good karma, and that one day I will reap what I sow. Plus I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear about factories expanding or new ones opening up!

Over the last few years I have watched as more ‘made in Britain’ sites have launched. The more the merrier I say, the more people championing the cause the better, but what does concern me is the integrity of them all. Some I know are great and I fully support them, but sometimes I wonder what the motivations of some of these people are? And how authentically they support the made in Britain cause, or whether they are just jumping on the bandwagon to try and make a quick buck? Do they host their sites in the UK? Or in the States where it is cheaper?

If they sell their members ‘made in Britain’ labels, are they printing them in the UK? Or in China?

It concerns me because this is something I am passionate about, and also because my company Make it British sometimes gets confused with other sites and campaigns whose integrity I cannot be responsible for.

You may have heard of the Buy British campaign of the 1960’s? It was going really well and backed by some high profile figures such as Rupert Murdoch. But then it was discovered that the T-shirts they had made with ‘I’m Backing British’ on to support the cause we’re actually made in Portugal, and the whole thing crumbled. Their lack of authenticity made the whole campaign worthless. Is that about to happen again?

Made in Britain Campaign holographic labels are printed overseas

Since writing this article the Made in Britain Campaign have confirmed to us that the holographic labels shown in the above photograph, which they have been distributing and selling to their members, were not printed in the UK

So who was the mystery foreign developer whose name appeared in the code of our site? Well, it was actually a generic plug in that we had installed which was developed overseas, because we use WordPress to build part of the site on. As soon as I find a British alternative for these I will swap them over, because that is how I roll….

Make it British would like to take this opportunity to point out that it’s organisation and director are in no way affiliated or connected to the Made in Britain Campaign or any other website promoting ‘made in Britain’.

Buy just one small gift made in Britain and together we could add one billion pounds to the UK economy!

This week we launched our ‘Buy British Christmas’ campaign, encouraging everyone to buy at least one small gift made in Britain this year.

You can see above the live video that we posted on Facebook to announce it.

We want you to just stop and think for a moment about supporting some of our great British makers this Christmas.

There are 52 million gift-buying adults living in the United Kingdom.

If every one of those individuals bought just one £20 gift made in Britain this Christmas it would add over £1 BILLION to the UK economy. That’s something worth thinking about!

[ctt template=”1″ link=”Jjrf3″ via=”yes” ]If everyone in GB bought just one £20 gift made in Britain this Xmas it’d add £1bn to UK economy #buybritishchristmas @makeitbritish[/ctt]

And if you buy those British-made gifts directly from the makers then that is more pounds going directly into the pockets of UK manufacturers.

To make it easy for you to find British-made Christmas gifts we have added a Make it British Gift Guide to this website.

There really is something for everyone in this year’s gift selection, and we have made it easy for you by breaking the guide down into helpful categories like Luxury Gifts, Stocking Fillers, Pampered Pets and Practical Presents.

Not only will the guide help you get all your shopping done quickly and without the stress, it will also help you to Buy British and support our fabulous brands!

buy british christmas

Follow and use #buybritishchristmas on social media to find gifts made in Britain

We’re also running a campaign across social media using the hashtag #buybritishchristmas

Just do a search for that tag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and lots of fantastic British-made gift ideas should pop up – and if you make in Britain then please use the tag when sharing tweets of photos of any gift items that you make here.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get #buybritishchristmas trending on Black Friday?

Black Friday is on 25th November this year and it’s the day when people traditionally start to really think about their present buying…and we want buying British to be at the forefront of their minds!

Start shopping the gift guide now

British Christmas Giveaway!!

Written by: on :: 15 Comments

Closing date midday 13th December 2016

We’ve got a box full of British-made goodies worth £100s to giveaway in our surprise Christmas gift box.

christmas-present-2016

Just answer the question and complete the form below to be in with a chance to win, and follow buybritishchristmas on social media to see sneak previews from us showing what’s in the box.

If you want to know what is going into the box, keep an eye on our updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see us reveal a different prize every weekday ay 12:30pm.

What is our Christmas hashtag?

Good luck!!

Sorry. This form is no longer available.

First gift revealed – Bee Good Toiletries

Day 1 – British Christmas Giveaway Reveal

We reveal the first of the British-made goodies going into our British Christmas Giveaway box. Watch every weekday at 12:30pm to find out what's going in next….Enter to win here http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ One person wins the lot! #buybritishchristmas Today it is some fantastic gifts from Bee Good who make all of their products with the honey from British Bees

Posted by Make it British on Friday, 18 November 2016

Second gift revealed – Bianca Elgar Silk Scarf

Day Two of our 'What's in the British Christmas Giveaway box?' reveals. Today it's a beautiful silk handkerchief from Bianca Elgar Enter to win the whole box ? here http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas Watch every week day at 12:30 to see another prize revealed.

Posted by Make it British on Monday, 21 November 2016

Third gift revealed – Cravat Club Silk Cravat

Day 3 – Cravat Club silk cravat

Day 3 of our Buy British Christmas gift giveaway, and what's in the box today? I'll give you a big clue, it is from Cravat Club #buybritishchristmasTo enter and win all of the prizes go to http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/

Posted by Make it British on Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Fourth gift revealed – Bee & Tea Apron

Day 4 of our Buy British Christmas gift giveaway, and what have we today? It's a lovely apron made by Bee & Tea perfect for budding bakers! #buybritishchristmas To enter and win all of the prizes go to http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/

Posted by Make it British on Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Fifth gift revealed – Corrymoor Socks

Day 5 of our Great British Giveaway. Today we're popping a pair of snugly Corrymoor Socks in the box. One person wins the lot! Enter here >http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Thursday, 24 November 2016

Sixth gift revealed – Laura’s Loom Hot Water Bottle Cover

Day 6 of our Great British Giveaway. Today we're popping a super stylish wool hot water bottle cover from Laura's Loom in the box. One person wins the lot! Enter here >http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Friday, 25 November 2016

Seventh gift revealed – Mille Saison’s Cushion

Day 7 – Mille Saisons cushion

Day 7 of our Great british Christmas Giveaway – We've popped this beautiful cushion by Mille Saisons into the box. Lookout for more items this week. To enter to win everything go here http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Monday, 28 November 2016

Eighth gift revealed – Hettie Company Dog Bandana

Day 8 – The Hettie Company dog bandana.

Day 8 – The Hettie Company Dog Bandana. British Christmas Giveaway – Poppy ? gets in on the act!

Posted by Make it British on Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Ninth gift revealed – Growlees Dog Tags & Muggi Cup Holder

Day British Christmas Giveaway

Day 10 – Growlees & Muggi. Going in the Christmas giveaway box today are some Growlees and a handy Muggi for carrying your drinks #buybritishchristmas Enjoy ?

Posted by Make it British on Thursday, 1 December 2016

Tenth gift revealed – Starchild Leather Baby Shoes

Day 10- Starchild Shoes. Baby Eva proudly models today's Christmas Giveaway prize – A pair of stylish leather baby shoes by Starchild. To enter to win all of the prizes go here – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Friday, 2 December 2016

Eleventh gift revealed – Charlie Noble Bat & Ball

Day 11 – Charlie Noble bat & ball. We've got s superb piece of craftsmanship to pop in our Christmas Giveaway box today. It's two beautifully carved wooden bats and a ball by Charlie Noble One person wins everything we're putting in the box. Enter here – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Saturday, 3 December 2016

Twelfth gift revealed – Carddies Kids Colouring Set

Day 12 – Carddies. Something for the kiddies today as we've got a very festive themed nativity set of Carddies to pop into our Christmas giveaway box. Enter to win here – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Monday, 5 December 2016

Thirteenth gift revealed – Rose Tree Organic Toiletries 

Day 13 – The Rose Tree. Just one week to go until our prize draw to decide the winner of our Great British Christmas Giveaway. Today a gorgeous candle set from The Rose Tree is going in the box Enter here – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fourteenth gift revealed – Pigeon Organics Baby Blanket

Day 14 – Pigeon Organics Baby Eva is showing off this beautiful baby wear by Pigeon organics We've got one of their stylish and soft printed organic blankets to pop into the Christmas giveaway box today Enter here to be in with a chance to win http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Fifteenth gift revealed – Romor Designs Silk Scarf

Day 15 – Romor Designs. We've got a beautiful Indigo-dyed silk scarf from Romor Designs going into our Christmas giveaway box today. Enter here to win everything. http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ Winner will be announced nced at 4pm on Tuesday 13th December. #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sixteenth gift revealed – Blue Badge Company Wheat Warmer

Day 16 – Blue Badge Company. Something for those chilly nights here – a fabulous lavender scented wheat warmer from Blue Badge Company is going into our Christmas giveaway box today. Enter to win here http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Friday, 9 December 2016

Seventeenth gift revealed – Good Joe T-shirt

Day 17 – Good Joe One for the boys today as we pop a Good Joe T-Shirt into our ?Christmas giveaway box ? Enter her – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmasLook out for some extra videos over the weekend ?

Posted by Make it British on Saturday, 10 December 2016

Eighteenth gift revealed – VVA Leather Handbag

We've got an extra special addition to our Christmas giveaway box tonight. It's this gorgeous evening bag by VVA handbags ? Remember – one person will win everything that we've featured in our videos over the last couple of weeks. That's over £1,000 worth of gifts. All made in Britain. Either give to family and friends, or keep for yourself ? Enter here http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Saturday, 10 December 2016

Nineteenth gift revealed – Carrything

Day 18 – Carrything No it's not a cat harness, but a very handy gadget to carry things. Today's prize is a Carrything. Just a couple of days left to enter our Christmas giveaway. The winner will be announced live at 4pm on Tuesday 13th December. Enter here – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Sunday, 11 December 2016

Twentieth gift revealed – Woof and Meow Dog Collar

A little extra something for the Christmas giveaway box- a dog collar by Woof and Meow Enter to win here – http://makeitbritish.co.uk/discounts-competitions/british-christmas-giveaway/ #buybritishchristmas

Posted by Make it British on Sunday, 11 December 2016

Our winner Elizabeth told us:

Was very exciting opening the box and finding all the amazing British made products in there. I love the Rose Tree bath oil, my husband was very pleased with his Marco Johns socks and children are desperate for some nice weather to get the Dr Zigs Extraordinary Bubbles out! I was one of those sceptics (wondering who actually wins these competitions) So glad I entered now though!